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Over 3,500 years ago, ancient Egyptians learned how to combine silica, some fluxes, and various other metallic oxides in furnaces heated to over 2,500 degrees to create molten glass of many colors.

Within a very short time period, fine artisans were creating colorful beads, bottles, bowls, castings, and intricately patterned jars and jewelry. Egyptian, Islamic, and, later, Roman artists used many techniques and temperature points to form diverse and beautiful objects.

These techniques are still used by glass artists today: glass blowing, glass casting, core forming, and finally, warm glass, or fusing and slumping glass. Although the outcome is the same, the technology has improved; today’s glass artists are able to use programmable electric kilns to receive predictable results.


Fusing Glass is the process of cutting up pieces of already formed colored glass and re-melting these pieces so that they fuse together. This is done to create interesting color combinations on the surface of the glass and interesting overall shapes in glass that would not otherwise be possible. At fusing temperatures, a piece of glass that is placed on top of another piece of glass will soften and melt into the base glass, but the color on each piece of glass will not blend.

Before fusing, the artist will have separate pieces of colored glass cut into various sizes and shapes, but after fusing the artist has a single piece of glass that contains two or more colors melted together in an unlimited amount of design possibilities.

Artists who fuse glass are able to learn the way increasing or decreasing the temperature of the kiln will affect how fully the glass can melt. At 1500 degrees (the full fusing stage of the heating cycle), two or more pieces of glass will soften and melt completely into each other on a flat kiln shelf, but the base glass will not lose its overall shape. At 1350 degrees, the pieces of glass will not fuse fully, but instead, the upper piece of glass will only begin to sink into the base glass, leaving a raised shape on top of a smooth glassy surface. After glass is fused, it must be gradually cooled so that it does not shatter. This is called the annealing stage.

Once glass is fused together and cooled to room temperature, artists can continue to manipulate the overall shape of the final piece. By placing the glass back into the kiln and heating it slowly to approximately 1250 degrees Fahrenheit, the colorful piece of fused glass can be set on top of slumping molds. The flat glass can be slowly softened into bowls, platters, and various abstract sculptural shapes.

This is called kiln-forming.

Amazingly, examples of early Roman kiln-formed glass have been found from 300 A.D., and they are as vibrant and creative in their shape, pattern and overall design as glass that is kiln-formed today.



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