Are you looking to expand your skills into the versatile world of glass? Many different projects can be made using glass. From the creation of your own glass to using premade pieces, the possibilities are endless.
A glass craft is an artistic process that is used in the creation of or utilizing glass.
- Glass Etching
- Glass Engraving
- Melted Glass
- Fused Glass
- Glass Bottle Cutting
- Glass Blowing
- Glass Painting
- Stained Glass
- Glass Gems
- Glass Pieces
- Cameo Glass
- Sub-surface Laser Engraving
- Pot Melts
As you can see, we have some choices to explore. We will examine each one to give you a look into the wonderful and versatile world of glass crafting.
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1. Glass Etching
Glass etching was developed in the mid-1800s. A variety of methods can be used, such as acid etching and abrasive blasting (sandblasting). The easiest is a glass etching cream or dip. Etching glass is a fun and easy craft that provides a crisp and clear design.
Basic supplies to get you started:
- Glass etching cream
- Glass cleaner
- Lint-free cloth
- Masking tape (optional)
- Rubber/vinyl gloves
When choosing a design, you can use pre-made stencils, or you can cut your own. If you have access to a Cricut or a Silhouette machine, several SVG files can be turned into a stencil. You can also cut your own stencils by hand with a craft knife. Etching cream can be reused, so be sure to scrape it back into the container before rinsing. Masking tape is used to adhere to reusable stencils, while adhesive vinyl can attach directly to the glass.
2. Glass Engraving
Glass engraving has been around since ancient times. It's the process of creating an image on glass through manual means. Today, lasers are typically used for this, but we can also use small engravers to do this by hand.
What you'll need:
- A rotary tool
- Carbide or diamond burrs
- Headband magnifiers
- Sharpie or wax pencil for design
- Printed Design
- Flexible shaft attachment (optional)
Print your design out on paper and place it on your project's inside/underside and transfer it to the glass with a permanent marker or wax pencil. Using your rotary tool, you'll start with the outline and then begin to fill in the larger areas of the design. Engraving takes time and patience, but with practice, it gets easier.
3. Melted Glass
Melting glass can be a fun way to reuse various glass pieces. From bottles to old wine glasses, the possibilities are endless. Slump molds are useful for shaping the melted glass.
Materials you'll need:
- Molds for curved pieces
- Kiln paper
- Fireproof gloves
The basics of melting glass are quite simple and is a great place for beginners to start. You'll place your glass in the kiln either on kiln paper or in a mold and heat it in the kiln. A tabletop kiln will take a few hours, while a microwave kiln will take a matter of minutes. You will need to let it cool gently for an hour to several hours.
Lampworking uses a torch to melt glass to make beads, figures, marbles, and more. In older times, oil lamps were used, today torches using propane, butane, and gas are utilized.
- Glass rods or large pieces of broken glass
- A thin metal rod
- Propane torch
- Safety glasses
- Vermiculite (optional)
- Fire extinguisher
- Bead release/Plaster
A good place to start is making beads. You'll heat the glass with the torch and stretch it out into a thin rod. Dip the metal rod into bead release and heat it until it's red. Slowly spin the rod as you wrap the glass around it.
Heat again until the bead is smooth and rounded. Let it cool and remove the bead and wash off the clay. It's an easy process, but you do need to factor in time for cooling.
5. Fused Glass
Fused glass is created by melting together two or more pieces of compatible glass, such as CO90, in a kiln.
Some basic supplies you'll need to get started are:
- Fusible glass
- Glass cutter
- Running pliers
- Safety glass
- Latex gloves
- Heat-resistant gloves
- Microwave kiln
- Thin kiln paper
- Microwave oven
This can be as simple or as complex as you would like to make it, but it is certainly easier to work with as far as glass crafts are concerned. Fusing time is quick, but you do need patience for the cooling time. Small pieces can be turned into jewelry, while larger pieces can be used as-is or cut to be used in other projects.
6. Glass Bottle Cutting
How much fun would it be to make use of fancy or colorful bottles to create something unique? From square shapes to round, from wind chimes to new glasses, you can do many things with a bottle.
Some basic supplies:
- Bottle cutting kit
- Butane torch
- "Lazy Susan"
- 8"x8" scrap of plate glass
- Silicon carbide wet/dry sandpaper
- Bulk silicon carbide grit
The process of cutting a bottle is fairly simple though it can be tedious to sand and round the edges until they're smooth. But the time spent is well worth it.
7. Glass Blowing
Glassblowing is a technique that can take many years to perfect. Many glassblowers spend a decade or more working glass before they are considered Master Glassblowers. With glass blowing, you're working with molten glass and blowing it into a bubble with a blowpipe. A glassblower can achieve a variety of shapes from glassware to figurines, from vases to various other containers.
Basic tools that are used:
- Annealing oven
The glass is heated to 2,000-degrees; it is gathered on the end of the blowpipe and rolled. A bubble is blown into the glass, and the shaping begins. The glass is reheated multiple times during this process as the glass quickly cools. Once the desired shape is achieved, it is removed from the blowpipe and placed into an annealing oven to cool slowly.
There is a lot of patience and practice that goes into glassblowing. Classes and apprenticeships are a good way to get an introduction to the craft.
8. Glass Painting
One of the simplest techniques which can yield a vast array of finished products is glass painting. You can achieve the looks of stained glass or fancy mosaics with just some paint and paintbrushes.
Basic items to get started:
- Glass craft paint, acrylics, or pens
- Glass piece
- Acrylic glass sealant (optional)
Painting on glass is as easy as painting on paper and is ideal for all skill levels. Paint or draw your design onto the glass and let it dry for at least 24-hours. For non-food use items, you can use a chemical sealer. Place the glass on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and place into a cold oven to prepare it for food use. Heat to 350-degrees for 30-minutes. Carefully remove and let cool.
9. Stained Glass
Stained glass can refer to the majestic windows of colored glass and smaller pieces of 3D art that have been made with colored glass. Metallic salts are used during the creation of the glass to create a variety of colors. A simpler form of creating stained glass designs utilizes the cutting of different pieces of glass.
Some basic materials to get you started:
- Colored glass
- Glass cutter
- Cutting oil
- Grozier and running pliers
- Copper foil
- Soldiering iron
- Safety glasses
Stained glass can be quite a time-consuming project, but is a fun craft for beginners. It does utilize different skill sets from cutting the glass to soldering, but all of these can be quite easy to learn. All it takes is a design used to cut out the pieces of glass, the edges smoothed and refined as needed to fit. Copper foil tape is used to adhere the pieces together, and then they are soldered.
10. Glass Gems
Sometimes we want to make use of pre-formed glass pieces. Glass gems can be a great way to get started with working with glass. The variety of colors available and the versatility give you a wide array of crafts you can make.
- Glass Gems
- Your imagination
Glass gems are great for children's projects, but they can also be used to decorate household or garden items.
11. Glass Pieces
Glass tiles, beach glass, or even broken glass can make for several unique projects. They make for wonderful mosaics and charming wind chimes.
All you'll need is to gather glass pieces and let your imagination run wild.
What you need will depend a lot on what you want your finished project to be. You can place them in grout and make a tabletop with them. Adhere fishing line to pieces and make a wind chime. Place them in cement and make stepping stones with them. The possibilities are endless!
12. Cameo Glass
Cameos are generally made using a different fused glass of different colors, usually an opaque white, which is then carved away, revealing the base color and leaving a positive image of the opaque glass. In modern times, it can also be usually used to describe objects with no color contrast and simply refer to a raised engraving.
Depending upon the techniques you'll use will determine the materials and skills needed. To create a more modern cameo, you can either melt glass into preformed molds or carve the glass's surface. You will need skills necessary for glass blowing and the related tools and furnaces for more traditional cameos.
13. Sub-surface Laser Engraving
These delightful creations are also known as a bubblegram because the method essentially creates little dots inside the glass block.
Creating one of these displays is as simple as inputting the image into the laser engraver's computer and letting it do its work. The downside is one of these machines is likely to cost you close to $22,000.
Vitrography uses various techniques in its creation, from fusing glass to drawing it down through the hole of a bottom draw glass furnace.
This comprises advanced skills and time, as well as having access to the tools needed. Pieces of glass are placed into a pot and then slowly heated in the kiln to about 1,700-degrees. As the glass melts, it'll run out the hole in strings. You can adjust the temperature to change the thickness of the pieces.
15. Pot Melts
One fun way to create your own glass to play with is doing a pot melt, which is another type of fused glass.
Placing different types of holes in the bottom of the pot can create different effects. Round holes tend to swirl while slots tend to create a folded look. You'll want to raise the pot off the kiln floor so that the glass can flow out onto the shelf.
- Clay flower pot
- Glass pieces
- Kiln paper
A straightforward technique that can vary with the methods that you use.
Which glass craft will you pursue?
As you can see, there are many things you can do with glass. It's a highly versatile medium that can be created and manipulated in many different forms. Which one you do will depend upon your time and your resources. We hope you have as much fun delving into your craft as we did in researching this.
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