Fusing with Thick Tempered Glass

As you may have noticed, I do a lot of projects around here. It’s become a habit to photograph each step. What isn’t usual is for me to post projects that I’m only ambivalent about. However, a wise lady told me it was useful to her to read about what DOESN’T work as well as what does, so here goes. This is a project that the technique ‘worked’, but I wasn’t super happy with the outcome, it’s just…okay. I’m putting it out here in case someone else has a great idea that needs just this technique.

A few years ago some kind soul gave me a stack of 3/8″ (10mm) thick tempered glass. Each piece is a whopping 19″ x 59″ and weighs a ton. Since it’s tempered, I pretty much have to use the whole piece at the same time so I decided to trace the shapes of some large molds on the glass, paint both sides and then break it and fuse it back together.

Step 1.

Trace mold shapes and sketch in paintings.

fusing thick tempered glass

Giant tempered glass

Here’s some closeups of the sketches:

fusing thick tempered glass

Salt Flats Panorama

fusing thick tempered glass

Canyon lands

fusing thick glass

Joshua Tree

Step 2.

Painting the glass. I used Glassline Paint. I’m making a total of 3 large projects here, two 18″ circles and one 18″ wide oval. The oval will have essentially the same scene on both sides, a landscape with joshua trees, only the sky will change.

painted tempered glass

Joshua Tree painting

One of the ovals will have a landscape of the Salt Flats on one side and squares on the reverse:

painted tempered glass

Salt Flats painting

And the reverse side:

Painted tempered glass

Reverse side of Salt Flats painting

The second circle has Arches on the front:

painted tempered glass

Delicate Arch

And the canyon lands on the reverse:

Canyon lands

Canyon lands

Once I got both sides painted, I wrapped the whole thing up in paper and broke it:

breaking thick tempered glass

Wrapped up tempered glass

Step 3.

The tricky part was selectively gathering up each image parts without mucking it up too badly and transferring it to the kiln. Once there, I fused them with a modified firing schedule, I didn’t slow down the heating stage because with the glass already in bits, I wasn’t too worried about thermal shock. I did hold a bit longer at the top temperature, and doubled my hold time at the annealing temperature. Anyway, here they are:

Fused painted tempered glass

Fused Arches

and the reverse:

fused painted tempered glass

Reverse of arches

And the joshua tree:

fused painted tempered glass

Fused joshua tree painting

and the reverse:

fused painted recycled glass

Reverse of Joshua Tree

I accidentally sold the Salt Flats piece before I photographed it (trust me, I surprised too!) so you’ll have to take my word that it was the best of the three.

In retrospect, I think the idea has merit, but the range of colors of paint I used is severely limiting, and the paint on the reverse didn’t mature all the way so it is flat and washed out. I may revisit someday when I have a spare minute.

In the meantime, the Joshua Tree piece is in my front yard hoping someone falls in love with it and carries it away…take the easel too.