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Making Fused Glass Cabochons

Meagan Chaney Gumpert - Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Yesterday, while the kiln was firing with a load full of ceramic work for the Appleton Museum exhibit, I took advantage of the time to switch gears.

In late June I will be part of an exhibit at the Green Hill Center for Art in Greensboro, NC. They have asked for a grouping of 45 of my Mini Sculptures to be installed on the wall. (I am excited to see them hanging collectively!) My newest Minis included the addition of fused glass cabochons. My supply of these was running low, so I decided it was time to restock.

Thought I would share how to make fused glass cabochons. (Cabochon - a "stone" with a convex top and flat bottom.)

Using a glass cutter, I score lines at 1/4" intervals. I'll make all the score lines first, and then...

Break them over a small container with breaking pliers.
(You could also use the tile nippers that are used for mosaic work.)

After all that scoring, cutting and breaking -
an assortment of apx 1/4" square fused glass color chips
This was my very first kiln. It's an Evenheat Hot Box Mini Kiln, and is wonderful for small scale fused glass work. The shelf is only about 4" square, but you can see how many cabochons I am able to do at one time. The other great thing about this kiln is the section with the controller and heating elements can be lifted off so that the glass can be loaded easily.

After arranging the 1/4" chips for firing, the kiln is placed back on the base.
The lid is placed on top, and now we're ready to fire!

Because these glass pieces are so small, there's little concern for thermal shock from heating/cooling the glass too quickly.

I turn the kiln on high and set a timer for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, I visually start to check the progress by lifting up the lid. The kiln has a pyrometer that reads the temperature, but I've had more success by looking in on the progress inside the kiln. This firing ended up taking me around 30 minutes.
Here's a look inside after everything is all cooled off.

What makes this work is the 1/4" volume control rule for glass fusing. I won't go into technical, scientific details, but think of it like this - glass wants to be 1/4" thick. If it is thinner than this it will pull in on itself. If you stack multiple layers of glass on top of one another, they are going to spread out until the average thickness is 1/4". Here's a chart I made a while ago to help explain this.

Now it's time to select the right size and best color cabochon for each Mini.
100% silicone adhesive is used to attach the two together.
This was a quick rundown and overview of this process. I'm happy to explain anything in more detail, just leave a comment or email me -

Happy Fusing!

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