Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention, and sometimes invention comes when you have nothing to lose. Early in my career, I had three metal-clay-and-fused-glass pendants fail in a single day. The glass cabochons simply shattered and fell away from the silver after the pieces were fired because I had neglected to cut an expansion hole underneath the cabochons. Augghh! Lesson learned.
But now I was left with three ugly pieces of silver, each with small pieces of glass permanently fused into bizarre locations on the surfacea loss I could not afford. Weeks later, after tryingunsuccessfully to remove the glass, I decided to try fusing glass in patterns onto the surface of the pendants. The results were surprising, and the Stained Glass process was born
This technique begins with any fired metal clay with a flat surface. Small shards of fusible glass are then attached to the silver. After cooling, Metal Clay Syringe Type is applied around the glass surface to encase the glass, and the pendant is fired again. The resulting pendant can even be placed in a tumbler without damaging the glass!
However, if the glass is not encased with syringe work, the two dissimilar materials will separate after firing (with rather ugly results).
It goes without saying that the glass used should have the same coefficient of expansion (C.O.E.). Note: Some colors and types of glass will work successfully together and others will not. I have had the best results using pieces of dichroic on black glass and other opaque glass. Reds, oranges and yellows as well as certain types of clear glass will become cloudy or yellow during firing as a result of a reaction with silveralthough there are a couple of ways around this.
For example, Bullseye Crystal Clear 30 tends not to discolor. You can also use a Sharpie (theyre oil-based) to trace around the syringe lines to help prevent yellowing. The design process for Fused Stained Glass Pendants is a bit haphazard. The silver design is dictated by the characteristics of the fused glass and must be determined after the fusing process.
Each resulting pendant is unique. Your creativity, fired-metal-clay mistakes and scrap dichroic glass, combined with this technique, will result in an eye-catching piece of jewelry that is the ultimate in recycling!
Part I: Forming the Pendant
Step 1: Prepare the work surface with olive oil (or another suitable product). Remove approximately 14 grams of Art Clay Silver 650 series from the package. Roll out the clay, using green graduated slats (three cards thickness) and a texture plate. This textured surface will be the pendants back. Cut the rolled clay into the desired pendant shape. Flip the pendant so the texture is on the work surface and the smooth side is showing.
Step 2: Roll some of the excess, recently trimmed clay into a snake long enough to form a rim on the surface of the pendant.
Step 3: Using a paintbrush, apply a layer of Art Clay Silver Paste around the outer edge of the pendants surface. (It is not necessary to worry about the smoothness of the paste layer as it will not be seen.) Place the coil along the edge of the pendant, forming a rim. Apply gentle pressure with your fingertips, ensuring the rim is attached to the pendant. Allow the pendant to dry at room temperature to avoid any warping as the clay dries. The silver must be completely flat.
Step 4: Using green slats, roll and texture the remaining clay to form a strip 11/2 to 2 inches long. Trim the edges, leaving a very long, straight rectangle.
Step 5: To form the bail, attach one end of the strip to the textured side of the pendant using Art Clay Silver Paste. Roll the remainder of the strip over a drinking straw and trim so a neat bail is formed. Use additional paste to attach the bail to the pendant body.
Step 6: Allow the pendant to dry completely, and sand all outer edges with until smooth.
Step 7: Place the pendant in the kiln and fire to 1,472 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes. After cooling, brush the surface with a brass brush.
Part II: Fusing the Glass
Step 8: Cover the flat area inside the rim of the pendant with a thin layer of glue. Place the small glass pieces across the surface of the pendant in a single layer. As the glass will expand during
the fusing process, do not place the pieces closer than 1 to 2 millimeters from each other and 2 millimeters from the rim of the pendant.
Step 9: Place your piece on fiber board or fiber paper for firing. Never fire a piece directly onto the kiln shelfthis could ruin the kilns shelf.
Step 10: Program your kiln as follows: Allow the kiln to return to room temperature before opening the door. Dropping the temperature too quickly may result in thermal shock and cracking of the glass. If the kiln does not offer multiple ramping times, use Ramp 3 and hold the temperature at 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, letting the kiln cool naturally to room temperature.
Part III: Syringe Capture and Decoration
This procedure ensures the fused glass remains attached to the silver pendant and resembles the lead of stained glass windows. During the final firing, the syringe work will shrink, forming a tight
frame that will also protect the glass.
Step 11: Examine the surface of the fused glass for any cracks. These cracks indicate a weakness in the glass and must be covered by Silver Syringe for support. (This may cause a few changes to your design, but the results will be beautiful and sturdy.) In addition, any glass surface areas larger than 2 centimeters by 2 centimeters or 1 inch by 1 inch will need the support of a line of Art Clay Silver from edge to edge to prevent the development of any stress fractures.
Note: Occasionally, some glass pieces will pop off the pendants surface. This is caused by the glass cooling too quickly or by the glass pieces being placed too closely together prior to fusing. If only a portion of the glass has come off, simply replace the missing glass with glass pieces smaller than those used originally and fuse the pendant again following the instructions in Part 2. If the glass pops off as a whole, put a few drops of Overlay Paste on the back of the glass and press it back into place. There is no need to fire the Overlay Paste connection separately from the Syringe work. Simply continue on with the rest of the project.
Step 12: With a paintbrush, apply a layer of Silver Overlay Paste where the Silver Syringe is to lie across the fused glass. Make sure to cover the space between the fused glass and the outer rim of silver as well as any cracks in the glass surface. Let dry.
Step 13: Place two to three lines of Silver Syringe (using the green or grey tip) on top of the dried Overlay Paste. Cover any large surface areas, cracks and the boundaries between the glass and the pendants rim. As with any combination of Art Clay Silver and glass, Silver Syringe must come slightly over all the edges of the fused glass.
Step 14: Smooth out the Syringe lines and make sure they are firmly attached to the glass surface. Allow the pendant to dry completely.
Step 15: Using a toothpick or cleanup tool, gently scrape away any unwanted dry Overlay Paste from the glass. Scrape the open glass areas first, and then carefully trim the syringe bands
Segment Ramp 1 Ramp 2
Rate, degrees/hr 1,600F 900F
Set point temp 1,500F 930F
Hold time 20 min 60 min
Step 16: If desired, sandpaper can be used to make the syringe lines uniform. Any broken lines can be repaired by applying Overlay paste, and Syringe to the glass. Brush metal clay powder from the pendant, and clean the surface of the glass with denatured alcohol to remove silver dust. Silver dust fired onto the surface of the glass can make it appear cloudy.
Step 17: Return the pendant to the kiln. Fire using the following program:
Again, if you do not have a kiln that allows this amount of programming, fire the piece at Ramp 3 to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and hold for 30 minutes. The kiln must be allowed to return to room temperature naturally before opening.
Step 18: Remove the pendant from the kiln. For a matte finish, brush with a brass brush. For a mirror finish, put the piece in a tumbler for two hours.
What Did You Learn?
Mistakes can open the door to creativity. In this case, the idea for a beautiful pendant came from a broken, otherwise unusable piece of jewelry.
Syringe Type metal clay is a great tool to use to attach glass to metal clay.
Dont be afraid of mixing different types of media in your fired arts projects. The results can be stunning.
1 20-gram package Art Clay Silver 650 series
Art Clay Silver Paste
Art Clay Silver Overlay Paste
Art Clay Silver Syringe (green or gray tip)
Glass:3 or more colors (or patterns) of fusible dichroic or black glass, cut into 3-5- millimeter-by-3-5 millimeter pieces
.75mm Green Graduated Slats or Playing Cards
Coil Roller (or CD Jewel Case)
Clay Cleanup Tool
Tiny Natural Bristle Paintbrush of Choice
Sandpaper (600 grit)
Nonstick Work Surface
White Craft or School Glue
Olive Oil or Badger Balm
Fiber Paper or Fiber Board
Digitally Programmable Kiln
Want to print out a copy of this project guide? This project was first published in the November 2009 issue of Fired Arts Magazine. Download a pdf version of the original article complete with step-by-step photos and an easy to read layout.
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