Donna Sarafis: Basics of Fusing Part 1


Part 1 of a 2 part blog on the basics of glass fusing. In this week's article Donna will tell us how to set up your work area and gives suggestions on finding the perfect kiln.

Often potential fusers ask about the cost of getting started in glass. I found that it isn't as expensive as one might think because the list of necessities for the beginner is not too long. So what would the list look like for someone who had NO experience at all?home studio Well, this is what I began with, and I think you might find these ideas helpful.

Space to Work- A place to cut glass can be fairly small. The most important detail is a floor surface such as concrete that will be easy to clean. I tried commercial tile in my first studio, and the shards were soon embedded under the work area. Obviously, you want to keep the surface as clean as possible so that small glass shards are not tracked into other areas. I've found that a pair of shoes dedicated to the glass area is very wise....voice of experience.

Where do I put a kiln?- If you live in the south as I do, a hot kiln can make the work area dreadfully hot if it is in the same room. On the other hand, it is great for heating in the winter in a cooler climate. The first small studio that I built had a small window unit which, when turned on after a night of firing, cooled the area quickly. If you use kiln paper as I do, the fumes can be quite hazardous, and thus another good reason to fire over night. Of course, the best solution is to have a separate area for your kiln, but that is not always possible.When it comes to selecting a kiln, it seems that everyone has a different need and situation, but I would buy the largest and best kiln that I could afford. So many of us started small and had regrets later. There are wonderful medium-sized kilns that are 110 volts, and therefore, require little electrical work if any to your home. Protecting it in a garage, studio or small building where there is ventilation is a good way to give it longevity. I've been told to always make sure that my controller doesn't get too hot, so I have a fan on the controller as well.

For glass cutting- A very straight, level cutting surface is a must. If you need to make a table more rigid or flat, a lumber store sells laminated plywood that can make a nice surface. A 3' x 3' surface is a good size for most of my cutting.

Make sure to check back next week for the second part of this article when Donna gives us her suggestions on tools for the beginner!

Delphi suggests these great supplies for an organized studio: Morton Glass Caddy and Bench Top Organizer

To see examples of organized studios check out the entries in Delphi's Most Organized Studio Contest on Facebook.

Delphi Exclusive Kits for Getting Started in Fusing: Bullseye Fusing Beginner Kit and System 96 Fusing Beginner Kit

The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of Delphi Glass. Delphi Glass makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. Delphi Glass reserves the right to delete, edit, or alter in any manner it sees fit blog entries or comments that it, in its sole discretion, deems to be unacceptable.

profile image
Donna S.  •  December 17, 2013
Hello Speedievw, I am so sorry that I did not see this post question until just now. There's really little that can be done once a piece is cracked. It may just break further if there is only a crack, but I have never had a crack heal itself....and I've tried! :) I would say, learn from the mistake and just try again. Good luck! Donna
profile image
danielle r.  •  June 30, 2013
Hi I have just started glass fusing and live in a very remote part of Western Australia, so I'm self learning. I finally got my kiln and fired my first pieces in it today. Well all of them cracked due to someone opening the kiln briefly.. what I was wondering is if I don't touch the pieces and put them back on to fuse again will I lose the cracks or will it spread apart? If I put a new piece of glass on top would it work out or am I wasting my time? And I would b greatful ifj u could help me please Thanks
profile image
April I.  •  July 20, 2012
I was Donna's first student years ago when I tracked her down and begged her to teach me in her studio in Fayetteville. I am still a novice in this art form but Donna was so patient with me and held nothing back in her teaching. I hope to pick this art form up again now that I am settled in Florida. Donna is exceptionally talented angel who shares all there is to know about fusing glass with all her students. She is willing to help you get started on your own and holds nothing back in her teaching. She wants you to succeed in this media. She is a blessing to all who know and love her and who have created beauty with glass because of her divine inspirations. She is the very best at what she does.
Donna Sarafis

Donna Sarafis

Donna Sarafis and her husband John own Dancing Light Fused Glass Studio in Huntsville, TX. There they create their original designs which often include landscapes, birds, and florals with dimension and texture. Their studio also provides a wooded and peaceful atmosphere for their workshops where they teach their original, watercolor-like approach to painting with frit. Recently, Donna and John were the guest artists and instructors for the Delphi Art Glass Festival in Lansing, MI. In 2010, they were honored with a first place in the spring Art Glass Festival contest, and second place in the kiln formed category.