We offer more than just Fine Glass Art at our studio gallery and showroom in Tomball! Craft glassware is also available for sale! You can also purchase pieces from our online gallery. We like to provide a variety of price options for our customers. Today we want to discuss glass jewelry.
One of the more accessible and less expensive ways to learn about glass as a material is to start fusing. Small projects like making tiles and jewelry can teach a lot to the discerning glassmaker.
At our glass studio, Sally is the only one of the artists who makes and sells glass jewelry. However, the entire team keeps an eye open for odd pieces that might make a beautiful pendant with a little work.
When we purchased our property for the glassblowing studio, there was an enclosed carport at the house, which had two sets of French doors and windows along its length on one side. We decided this was a great place to put in what we affectionately called our “jewelry studio.” A “rose by any name would smell as sweet,” so this area goes by many names, jewelry studio, fusing studio, Sally’s studio.
To get started quickly we just wanted to get a 110 kiln that could be used in this space. We found the largest one available at the time, which was a 14” Paragon. Then we put in a wall of workbenches under the windows, built a large table and benches for the center, of the space, a couple of tool chests are on the opposite side of the room and two large metal cabinets for molds and other accessories. The area is dry and air-conditioned! What more can you ask? A larger kiln!
Before we started building the studio, Sally took a continuing ed class on dichroic jewelry. She found it quite relaxing. So we purchased some stock, and once we had the place, she started playing.
So, let’s talk about dichroic glass jewelry.
First, what does dichroic mean? Glass that appears to be one color in reflected light and another color when the light shines through it is called dichroic (two-colored) glass. The oldest known dichroic glass dates back to Roman times according to researchers at Corning.
Today artists can use coated dichroic glass for all sorts of work from small jewelry pieces to sculptures and decorative skylights. A more modern history of dichroic glass coatings is presented by one of the larger producers, Coatings by Sandberg.
For those of us who love the iron-bearing mineral pyrite or Fools’ Gold, dichroic glass is elegant! Another of its properties is that once it is fired (heated up), it changes colors. So opening your kiln with dichroic glass in it is like unwrapping a Christmas present!
You can purchase glass with dichroic coatings on it with a clear or black back and in various COE’s (coefficient of expansion). Typically to make a pendant, you decide on your backing, the shape, and how you are going to place the accent pieces. You can layer them in various forms, or use one full piece. The options are as endless as your imagination!
Fusing Techniques for Dichroic Glass Jewelry
Then you must decide how you will fire the piece: whether you want what is called a full fuse, where everything melts together, perhaps you would like to see topography, this is called a tack or contour fuse. For the full fuse, you can also cover the dichro with clear glass to enhance its optical qualities.
Once the pieces are created, you can put them on your kiln shelf, on a patterned tile, or on thin fire or papyrus paper. Then you set your fusing program (based on the thickness of the glass, the type of fuse you want, and the COE). There are lots of places to go to look up annealing schedules for the COE glass you are using, but then you need to test the program in your kiln to make sure it does what you want!
Once you have the pendants out of the kiln, you need to decide how to attach them to a necklace; there are several options. You can purchase pre-made bails from a jewelry outlet. The bails come in all sorts of different metals, sizes, and qualities. You could have decided pre-firing that you were going to insert a high temp wire as your bail and glued it temporarily in place with glass glue before fusing. Or finally, you could drill your glass and then insert a jump ring for the finding. Again, the choices are yours.
Making glass is like a chemistry lab, cooking class, or lots of other fun things! Make it, test it, then create the final product!
Blown Glass Jewelry
Upcycling color from the blown glass studio is a favorite to make beautiful glass pieces. You can use a part of the leftover murrini as a pendant form. You might have to grind it to shape it into the desired form and anneal it or polish an edge or two. Then you can attach your bail.
When you are making a glass form with cane you typically clip off the cane at the end so it all swirls to what would be the center of the bottom of the piece. This cutoff is called a frigger and is just a whimsical piece of glass.
You can also intentionally make a small gather and color it to make a pendant; within this, you can add additional color or cremains if interested.
To all of these blown glass pieces you still have to have a bail to attach it to the chain. But as you see, the options are endless!
Come on out and look at our jewelry selection at our Tomball studio showroom. We have pendants and earrings. Prices start at $25, so there is something for everyone!