Molten glass art-making is a process by which individual pieces of glass are fused to make a new piece of glass. The effects that can be achieved through this process are really beautiful.
The process of making fused glass is very complex and requires patience, attention to detail, and special glass fused supplies and equipment. The basics are easy to learn, but it can take years to master the skills needed to get the results you want.
Molten glass 101
The first step to creating a built-in piece of glass is to choose the right type of glass. All glass shrinks and expands when heated. When creating a glass kiln mold, the types of glass used must have the same coefficient of expansion, meaning that they all expand and contract at the same rate.
Next, the artist will assemble the glass pieces into an attractive design. This is where creativity really comes in. Some artists choose to keep their designs simple, using only two layers of glass and simple geometric shapes. Other artists get very intricate in their designs, using many different colors and layers of glaze.
Once the piece is assembled, it is heated in the oven. This step itself requires a great deal of skill and creativity. The temperatures used, as well as the amount of time the glass spends in the oven, will affect the final piece. Kiln firing can take hours, depending on the desired effect. Some artists use a hand torch to combine their glass pieces, which they feel gives them more control over the results.
The final part of the process is called annealing. Annealing involves slowly returning the burnt glass to room temperature. This is a long and slow process that cannot be expedited, as glass that is not properly annealed is unstable and can crack or explode unexpectedly.