Playing with fire

Learn how to fuse glass

In my ongoing quest to learn a little bit of everything and live a 'Life of Yes', I took a glass fusing class at Chicago Glass Collective with Leslie Speicher. I had taken a couple of glass blowing classes over the years and while I really enjoyed glass blowing it was too much of a commitment of time and money.

Glass fusing gives you, well almost, instant gratification and you can become a member of the Chicago Glass Collective or even drop in to use the facilities. 

We were making sushi plates and initially when I walked in and looked around at the beautiful glass work that had been done I was drawn to very zen designs. I was thinking I would make something peaceful and harmonious. All bets were off when I saw the sheet of glass in swirling orange and yellow. 

Glass is poured into sheets and you can see where it flowed along the edges
We started with a base plate in one single color. Here you can see my friend Amber chose a base in white and then added some green and yellow accents. She also chose to lay two thin strips of glass. I love her design. 

It is actually pretty easy to cut the glass and get different shapes once you get the hang of it. My mother used to work with stained glass and after so many hours of watching her manipulate glass I felt like I already knew how to do it before I started. 

Amber's zen plate

Heather went for a more beach colored scene. 

Here is my piece before being fired. 
Once everything is layed out it is fired once to fuse the glass together. What is really cool is that some of the glass reacts to each other- the turquoise and red glass get busy and have a chemical reaction that creates a copper colored line. Once the glass is fused it gets a second firing on a mold to create the curve of a sushi plate. 

Leslie's art at the Chicago Glass Collective
Leslie is an amazing teacher and makes the process interesting and easy to understand. She is also an incredible artist. Her plates are stunning and she also makes beads for jewelry that I covet. What I loved about the class the most is that I got to play with color combinations in a completely different way then if I was working with textiles. 

Leslie is teaching a coaster making glass fusing class through Dabble on July 12th and I highly recommend it. If you are interested in working with flame there is also a flameworking class on June 27th. 

Flameworking class

Originally published 6/26/13

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