Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Making Fused Glass Cabochons

Yesterday, while the kiln was firing with a load full of ceramic work for the Appleton Museum exhibit, I took advantage of the time to switch gears.

In late June I will be part of an exhibit at the Green Hill Center for Art in Greensboro, NC. They have asked for a grouping of 45 of my Mini Sculptures to be installed on the wall. (I am excited to see them hanging collectively!) My newest Minis included the addition of fused glass cabochons. My supply of these was running low, so I decided it was time to restock.

Thought I would share how to make fused glass cabochons. (Cabochon - a "stone" with a convex top and flat bottom.)

Using a glass cutter, I score lines at 1/4" intervals. I'll make all the score lines first, and then...

Break them over a small container with breaking pliers.
(You could also use the tile nippers that are used for mosaic work.)

After all that scoring, cutting and breaking -
an assortment of apx 1/4" square fused glass color chips
This was my very first kiln. It's an Evenheat Hot Box Mini Kiln, and is wonderful for small scale fused glass work. The shelf is only about 4" square, but you can see how many cabochons I am able to do at one time. The other great thing about this kiln is the section with the controller and heating elements can be lifted off so that the glass can be loaded easily.

After arranging the 1/4" chips for firing, the kiln is placed back on the base.
The lid is placed on top, and now we're ready to fire!

Because these glass pieces are so small, there's little concern for thermal shock from heating/cooling the glass too quickly.

I turn the kiln on high and set a timer for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, I visually start to check the progress by lifting up the lid. The kiln has a pyrometer that reads the temperature, but I've had more success by looking in on the progress inside the kiln. This firing ended up taking me around 30 minutes.
Here's a look inside after everything is all cooled off.

What makes this work is the 1/4" volume control rule for glass fusing. I won't go into technical, scientific details, but think of it like this - glass wants to be 1/4" thick. If it is thinner than this it will pull in on itself. If you stack multiple layers of glass on top of one another, they are going to spread out until the average thickness is 1/4". Here's a chart I made a while ago to help explain this.

Now it's time to select the right size and best color cabochon for each Mini.
100% silicone adhesive is used to attach the two together.
This was a quick rundown and overview of this process. I'm happy to explain anything in more detail, just leave a comment or email me - info@MeaganChaney.com

Happy Fusing!


ang said...

v cool meagan..

Maggie Bergman said...

I really like the little minis! They look edible! I'd love to see them in real life, the glazes look amazing too!

Meagan Chaney said...

Thanks Ang and Maggie! Wish I had work in a gallery near you in Australia so you could go see them in real life. :)

RenMeleon said...

Hey Meagan! I love seeing your process, thank you for posting it.

I am hoping to be at your opening this weekend at the Museum, know you must be anxious. :) I met you briefly at MCA when you were dropping off more tile pieces for their gift shop; they are lovely.

Looking forward to seeing more of your work! Your minis are gorgeous.

Ria :)

Amy said...

I love the cabochons! What is the thickness of the glass to start with? Also I have found it difficult to make long, very slender strips of glass, is there a secret?

Meagan Chaney said...

Thanks Amy,

I start with "standard thickness" glass - about 3mm or 1/8" thick. (This is the same thickess as the glass used to frame most pictures.)

Long slinder strips can be tricky. You're right! I've found it helpful to make sure I have a sharp cutter and then not to apply too much pressure when scoring the glass. Sometime I'll use cutting oil, but rarely because if it isn't cleaned off properly, it can leave a reside on the glass.

I also use a Morton Glass Cutting System for strips wider than 1/2".

Hope that helps! LMK if you have any more questions!


Anonymous said...

thank you for this information

Jim said...

What am I looking at in the last photo? Is the tiny dot the cab? Are the larger items your mini sculptures? They are beautiful! If they are your mini sculptures how are they made? They seem to have a unique texture, again beautiful.

Thank you so much for sharing your art.


Meagan Chaney said...

Hi Jim,

Thanks for your interest!

Yes, the very last photo is of a set of completed Mini Sculptures with the fused glass cabs glued in place. Most of the cabs are about the size of a pencil eraser.

And here a link to a tutorial I did a while back on how I make the Minis. http://www.clayandglassblog.com/2009/03/clay-slab-construction.html

Most of my textures come from the glazes I use. I've posted several recipes or be sure to check out the Low Fire Friday segment that I write the first Friday of every month for glaze tips.

Best of luck! And Thank you again!

Anonymous said...

What do you use to attatch the pendants to a bail? and I have seen Jewlery designers use a thin strip of silk for a "chain" any ideas or suppliers on how to make or get them? Thanks your blog is inspiring =) Ive started makeing a few pendants and selling a few with scrap glass and layering but want to learn more =)

Meagan Chaney Gumpert said...


Thanks for checking out my blog!

I typically wire wrap my pendants with 18guage 1/2 Hard Sterling Silver wire instead of gluing on a bail.

In the past when I've glued on bails I've used Triolyse glue. It's awesome doesn't get brittle like a lot of glues, cleans up easy and doesn't leave you with a globby mess by your bail.

And the bails I like are from Aanraku. http://www.amazon.com/Aanraku-Bails-Plated-Dichroic-Pendants/dp/B004UGHW2E

The ribbon I'm using for a chain is just purchased in a spool from Michaels or other craft store. There's no clasp in the back, and is intended to be tied. RioGrande or Rings N Things are both suppliers you could look into if you want something fancier.

Best of luck to you! And thanks again for contacting me. I'm always happy to help.

PS - I'm in the process of transferring my blog to my new website. Check it out when you get a chance! www.MeaganChaneyGumpert.com