Project of the Month: September 2021

Monthly Project: July 2021

1. To produce one, just one, fused glass bowl

My first project might not be successful this month the way things have been going of late in my kiln which I treated myself to earlier this year. It is not quite my first kiln as what inspired me to embark on this nonsense was a microwave kiln kit for fusing glass which I got as a present for someone who didn’t want it. So I decided to have a go.

Microwave kiln kits for glass fusing come with all you need to get started (kiln, kiln paper, different types of glass, glass cutter and usually thermal gloves). They don’t come with goggles or tongs as if you are sensible and careful you won’t need them. They range in price from £30-£50 to reflect how much kit you get and the size of the kiln. You’re limited to size as it has to fit in the microwave so I recommend getting the largest that fits your microwave oven.

A couple of cautionary notes, glass can be very sharp, so don’t forget to wear gloves although the kits don’t tend to come with sharp shards, if you start smashing up bottles, you will need them, unless you want hands like mine. There was one cut that went so deep my left thumb lost a lot of sensitivity which it still hasn’t entirely recovered from. Most importantly ALWAYS wear gloves when handling the hot kiln and avoid touching hit glass altogether. I have burned my kitchen worktop with my kiln in seconds as obviously I subconsciously wanted a new one. Kitchen oven gloves will protect you but they will also get burnt. Far better to learn a little patience and lit it all cool down which only takes about 30 minutes after a firing of less than 10.     

One last thing to note is to clean your microwave thoroughly after firing if you intend using it for food afterwards. The oven will stain with fumes from repeated firings, so I have a new microwave now, the old one is still working… in the shed. I think my subconscious wanted to go on a spending spree.

So far I have managed to melt the glass so it’s run over the heating elements several times thereby negating the guarantee that came with it and making the temperature increasingly difficult to control. It’s also managed to super glue itself onto kiln shelves despite copious amounts of kiln wash and kiln fibre regardless of how carefully I have monitored and adjusted the temperatures. Amazingly it still works as I managed to bodge the elements together again once I’d chiselled out the bits caked in now solidified glass. Yep, I have looked up firing schedules and followed them religiously. Luckily, being more familiar with pottery, I have had success with firings for that and next month, successful or not in my aim to fuse and slump one (just one) glass bowl I’m returning to pottery. Will I succeed? Watch this space to find out… It’s firing again, right now. Oh darn it… I need to alter the temperature again, right now!