Some of you may know that there has recently been a major upheaval in the fused glass industry, with one manufacturer shutting down completely and others having curbs put on their production until new environmental controls have been installed. With prices going up as a result, this has obviously made lots of us think quite seriously about our profession or our hobby and about how we could do things differently if these products were not available.
One of the options is to use float glass. Float glass is window glass. It's much cheaper than fusing glass, comes in big sheets, and can be obtained easily from your local glazier. You can also buy some coloured float glass, though it is expensive and you need to be sure that it is coloured and not coated. You can buy compatible frits and powders too, from Kansacraft.
One of the reasons float glass is cheaper is that it isn't compatibility tested. However, if you fuse pieces from the same sheet they will be fine. The coefficient of expansion (COE) is the thing which restricts which glasses you can melt together, as if the pieces are too different they expand and contract differently and will, over time, crack your artwork.
You can also use bottle glass, but again the best thing to do is only to use bottles singly, or if you cut them up only fuse pieces from the same bottle together, as otherwise compatibility problems can occur.
If you want to add other colours and textures to the top of your glass you can use glassline pens, compatible frit/powder or enamels (check that these are compatible with the glass you are using before you buy them).
You have a lot of options for "between" the glass too ... some of these are "bubble paints" (oxides), metal foils, sheet and leaf, and mica. Obviously you can also use wire to form hanging loops or shapes between the glass. (If your wire goes black where it sticks out of the glass you can clean it by soaking in fizzy cola!)
Devitrification (surface crystallisation) of the glass is often an issue with float glass - there are sprays you can buy (Spray A) which can help to minimise this, but making sure your glass is clean and using the right firing cycle makes a huge difference too.
Glasswithapast has some fabulous information on how to use float / bottle / recycled glass, including projects and firing cycles, and is well worth a look.
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Experienced silk painter, glass fuser, teacher, enthusiastic and inspirational.