Category Archives: For Beginners

For Beginners

Setting Up a Workshop

Recently on Facebook, I saw someone asking about the floor in her workshop she was setting up. Her husband wanted to put down carpet since the workshop was in the cellar and the carpet would make the floors feel warmer. Of course, she got an emphatic, “no” because of burns and glass shards.

Stained Glass News puts out a publication called “The Beginner’s Guide to Stained Glass.” In that publication, there is an article called “Helpful Ideas for Setting up your Own Stained Glass Workshop.” Most of this info comes from that article.

  1. Proper ventilation. That can be a ventilation system or a fan blowing the fumes away from you or a fume trap. A good option would be the Weller Fume Trap Smoke Absorber.

Weller Fume Trap Smoke Absorber.2. Plenty of light. When we set up our first retail store, at one point, we doubled the lighting. We just could not get enough light. Make sure you have a well-lit work area. Light boxes are also very handy.

3. Storage for glass. There are plenty of options available for easy glass storage. If you buy full sheets, ask your glass dealer for empty cases. Set them on end, and you have a great storage area. The Morton glass caddy is great for cut sheets.

Morton Glass Caddy.4. Grounded electrical connections.  Do not use extension cords. The power strips that extend horizontally or vertically work well. Buy more than you would expect to use because you just won’t believe how many you will actually need. You’ll need power for your soldering iron, ventilation, your music source, saw, grinder and lightbox, just for starters. Have them in easy reach, not under a counter so you won’t have to crawl around to plug something in.

5. Disposal of glass and junk. Set up your room with a place to put the glass you want to keep. As a safety precaution, use a metal trash can for glass shards or working with hot glass. Cleaning rags should go in covered metal storage containers.

Clear storage bins are a great way to store your scrap glass.6. Easy-to-clean flooring. Do not use carpet. Make sure your flooring is something that is not going to break your heart if you drop hot solder on it and burn it.

7. Pay attention to the height of your work area. Do you like to work sitting or standing? Have your working surface at a comfortable height based on this preference.

8. Access to water is important. Using your kitchen sink is not recommended for this activity.

Bottle Club


Don’t you just hate to throw out those wine and liquor bottles?  They are quite nice with the graceful shapes and the beautiful colors.   Make them into fused art!

First (and most important) step is to clean them.  The labels and any glue must be completely removed to be sure that no residue is fused onto the glass.  Use very hot water with ½ cup baking soda and 1 tablespoon of dish soap.  Submerge them in the water and let them soak for 10 minutes then add 2 cups of white wine vinegar.  Roll your bottles around so the vinegar mixes in.  Let them soak until you can get the labels off.

Once the bottles are clean you have some options.  You can just lay it in the kiln and full fuse it.  This one just has a little decorative wiring and some etching.  You could add a decorative knife and have a nice little gift.

Another option is to use a bottle mold.  There are all types available.  See the full collection here.

There are textured molds.  The one above has a lovely Tree of Life motif.

Drop molds, such as the one above, make an interesting shape.

You also can use a textured flat mold, such as the one below, and then slump it into a bottle mold.

You may get devitrification with some bottles.  To prevent it, spay with a divit spray like Spray A.



No Bad Luck Here!




Don’t think of it as seven years bad luck, think of it as an opportunity to be creative.  If you are worried about the seven years of bad luck you can bury a piece in the garden and that will stop it. (so I have heard). Here are some ideas for broken mirrors, most of which I got from Fusing 101:  Any and Everything You Wanted to know but Were Afraid to Ask.

This from Jane Wimbury.  How sweet is that!

Another idea is to get Styrofoam balls and make garden balls.  Or use an old bowling ball:

Frame the irregular shapes for eclectic mirrors:

Just put it back together roughly for a high interest look.  Many of these ideas from dyi.

I can see this done with wine corks, as well!

Try  your own designs – Good Luck!

Glass Fusing Q&A


Q: When I fuse my projects, sometimes I get medium to small bubbles. What causes them and how can I prevent them?

A: Bubbles can be caused by many different things. First, uneven stacking of glass can result in air trapped between layers. To prevent this from occurring, check the placement of all the glass pieces and insure they are sitting properly on the base. Since the edges of the glass fuse before the center of the glass, cut your base glass 1/8” larger than the top layer to allow air to escape. Second, check the glass prior to fusing. Some glass may already have contained bubbles inside the glass, which may or may not affect the outcome.

Q: After I fuse my pendants, I get uneven areas around the edges. What’s happening with the glass?

A: You did not fire it long enough or to a high enough temperature for a full fuse. Try firing for a little longer time.

Q: Sometimes my glass pieces look like a porcupine with spiky edges. What causes the glass to spike?

A: Spiky edges can be caused by over-firing your piece. The spiked edges are caused by the glass grabbing as it is trying to shrink.

Q: What caused my layered glass pieces to flatten?

A: If the glass piece has flattened out too much, you have over fired the piece. To prevent this from happening, reduce your power and shorten your time. After your first firing, open the microwave and using Fireworks Hot Mitts™; carefully lift the lid to inspect the fuse piece. If the desired results have not been achieved, continue firing in 30 seconds intervals.

Q: I tried to make a 1 inch pendant with embellishments, however after I finished fusing, the glass shrunk. How can I prevent this from happening the next time?

A: Glass naturally wants to be ¼ inch thick when heated. Your glass will shrink or expand to obtain this depth. A good tip to remember is that if your piece is less than ¼ inch when you start, it will shrink up to reach this depth. If your piece is larger than ¼ inch when you start, it will want to flatten out to reach this depth.

Q: What causes two pieces of dichroic or iridized glass to blow apart in the kiln?

A: Repelling glass will occur with dichroic and iridized coatings. The coatings can’t be placed together for fusing purposes, because they repel each other. The only way to avoid this is to encase the coated glass with a non-coated glass, such as clear. This will cause the coated glass to be encased and sealed.

Q:  Yuck, this film appeared on my fused glass. What is it and how can I prevent this from happening?

A: This dull white crystalline substance on the surface of your glass is known as devitrification. This is one of the most talked about glass fusing problems around. It can occur when your glass remains in a temperature range 1000ºF-1300ºF too long. You need to minimize the time spent in this temperature range.

Gray or Scummy Edges – Gray or scummy edges can occur on pieces that have been fired once and then cold worked before refiring. Cold working involves using either a grinder or glass saw on a piece of glass. These can be avoided by thoroughly cleaning the glass before refiring the piece. Keep a bowl of clean water near your work area and soak the glass right after doing the cold work procedure. This will keep the edges damp and allow the piece to be cleaned easier. Scrub completely and let dry before proceeding with the refiring process.

Q:  My glass cracked! What happened?

A: Cracking glass either during or after firing can be caused by a several things: thermal shock, heating up the glass too fast and compatibility.

Thermal shock occurs either by taking the piece out of the kiln too soon, or by opening the kiln and exposing the hot glass to cool air.

If the glass cracked in the kiln and it has an “S” shaped crack, the piece has heated too quickly. Slow down!

Finally, if the crack occurs along the line where the two pieces of glass meet, then the two touching pieces are not compatible. Make sure the glass you are using have the same COE (coefficient of expansion).

Q: How can I prevent my glass from shattering?

A: Glass Shattering in pieces over 1” with more than 1 layer may sometimes shatter. To prevent this from occurring, reduce the power. This will allow the glass to heat slower and will be less likely to shatter. Next, make sure your glass is clean and dry before firing.

Q: My fusing instructions say to clean my glass before firing, can I use a glass cleaning spray or detergent?

A: We don’t recommend it. Detergents, dish soaps, multi-purpose cleaners, some window cleaners, ammonia and even denatured alcohol should NOT be used to clean glass. These can actually promote devitrification. We suggest diluted white vinegar or rinsing your glass with distilled water.

Q: Every time I put my fuse glass project together, the pieces roll off before I can get it to the microwave. What can I do to prevent this from happening?

A: To hold your fusing project together, mix one drop of glue.   Apply a very thin amount on the back of the glass using a brush and allow the glue to dry thoroughly before firing.


A rewrite of the 2017 blog “AM I GOOD ENOUGH”

Right after the holiday season we start encouraging all of you to get your entry ready for the Just For Fun Contest.  We often hear, “I am just not good enough.”  I just want to say, “YES, YOU ARE!”

The variety of work and the different skill levels are what make the contest wonderful.  Each piece draws out comments of appreciation for something.  It might be choice of color, or choice or glass.  Some little quirky things someone might have done.  Some little creative touch.  It might be that someone just likes it.

NEVER, NEVER, have we heard— “that doesn’t belong—it is not good enough.”


The name “Just for Fun” may sound trite but we put a lot of thought into it.  We did not want the contest to have rules that we have to monitor, and we do not want to limit it in any way.  (we do limit size because we don’t want the ceiling to fall).  We just want it to be Fun.  You can enter to win or you can enter just for fun.

This contest is in celebration of National Stained-Glass Month.  In addition to seeing just an awesome collection of entries, you will get to come to Invite Night celebration.  You get to vote.  You get to enjoy refreshments.  You get a swag bag.  You get to shop the very best sale we have all year on different items that you see in the store all the time.  Thinks we found on sale, things we find on close outs, things suppliers offer us at special pricing.  We usually throw in some introductory products are introductory prices.  All in all it is just a great time.

Get your contest piece ready and help us celebrate National Stained Glass Month!

Tips from the Glass Academy: Safety – How Can You Tell a Stained Glass Worker?


Just look at their thumbs! They are lined with little cuts! Right! So annoying! Comes from pushing little pieces of glass against the grinding wheel. Unlike when we started out in business in 1988, now there is a gadget to solve your every problem. There are lots to solve the cut thumb problem.

Above: Thumb Pushers by Inland. Sku 2753tp. Low price and simple and easy to use.

Above: Grinder tongs by Morton. Morton is the gadget king of the glass industry. Of course, they would have something. Sku 2779ga04

Above: The most substantial solution is by Glastar. The Griffi Glass Gripper. Sku 2051

Above: The most unusual solution are Finger Gloves. Not really made for this purpose but folks tell us they use them for grinding. Sku fg

Tips from Janet – Know Your Glass – Part 2


In addition to there being different types of glass which we talked about in Know Your Glass (part 1) there are also different glass manufacturers.

The manufacturers that we stock glass from at Stained Glass Express are:

Armstong—Clarity, richness and depth in art glass! It is difficult to know what is going on with Armstrong. They moved their factory to China many years ago and then came back. However, they no longer had a factory. So we heard it was being manufactured by Wissmach and Kokomo. We see no evidence of that and are not sure where it comes from. However, it is totally beautiful. We try to stock 24 different # but are not always successful as the supply is not consistent.
Bullseye—Is based on Portland, Oregon. I toured they plant a couple of years ago and it is very impressive. They manufacture “colored glass for art and architecture with worldwide distribution and a strong commitment to research, education and promoting glass art”. They really are leaders in comtemporary kiln-glass. Their colors are rich and beautiful.
Kokomo—Kokomo is oldest glass manufacturer. They have been in Kokomo, Indiana for 125 years. They are known worldwide for they hand mixed sheet glass art and colored glass. Even though Tiffany manufactured his own glass he also bought a lot of glass and jewels from Kokomo. Much of Kokomo’s glass was influenced by Mr. Tiffany. One of our favorites.
Firebox—We tired our hand at importing. We have 8 beautiful colors that with a great deal of effort we managed to get here. The price is right and the colors are wonderful. Our of the 10 colors we brought in we had the forethought to bring in two reds and one pink. So while reds and pinks prices have really risen, we have some that remains affordable!
GNA—GNA stands for German New Antique. Unfortunately the color glass is being eliminated and only the clear will remain. We still have some that is our clearance bin and some mirrored that is in the mirror section. However, when it is gone, it is gone. We will continue to carry the clear. It is very beautiful. Fine lines run through it and nothing cuts better!
Spectrum—We stock more spectrum than anything else. We stock stained glass, fusing glass and cabinet glass from Spectrum. It cuts great and they just keep coming out with more and more fun and beautiful products. They give great retailer support. That is where The Score with its info and free patterns come from. I have toured their factory and it is BIG business!
Uroboros—I also toured here. I watched each sheet being handmade! They have been in business since 1973. They have a “broad range of beaufiul and indispensable sheet glass styles for discerning glass artists worldwide.” On glass unloading days we live for the uroboros sheets. Each sheet is different and beautiful.
Van Gogh—We are not certain if Van Gogh is a manufacturer but it sure is different than anything else. What I have read is that it is a glue chip glass, painted with auto paint. It is unique and beautiful. It is great for Mosaics. Not so great in the light.
Wissmach—This is another very old glass manufacturer. They have been manufacturing art glass since 1904. I have toured this plant also. They let us hand pick some glass which they then drop shipped through our distributor. It was a very fun experience. We have a large stock of Wissmach and it is often the pick to match old repairs and church windows. They have also developed a fusible glass with a 90 coe.
Youghiogheny—It is just beautiful glass. Each piece is a work of art. It was founded in 1976 and is now “world-renowned for uncompromising quality”. It is another one that we look forward to on glass unloading day. It is always a treat!

Tips from Janet: Know Your Tools—Pliers


So many pliers—so many uses! Your first plier should be a breaker/grozer. Double duty! Their primary function is to grasp the glass securely on one side of a score when breaking it apart. Both jaws have serrated teeth to assist in their second duty, grozing.

Second pair you should buy is probably a running plier. This plier is designed to apply pressure under a score causing the break to follow (run) along the score line. Metal ones have the advantage of being adjustable for the thickness of the glass you are working with. Plastic also available.

Breakers. These have straight jaws and are designed to grasps the glass to assist in breaking long thin pieces of glass. The wide jaws meet only at the tip and not serrated.

The Safety Break. Morton is a very clever company who make very clever tools. One is the safety break system. The small one is a two-part method that begins the start of the break anywhere along the score. It permits several glass breaking options to the user and comes with full instructions. You must have a grid surface to use it. I used this when my children were young and wanted to cut glass. Morton also has the M-80 Safety Break. It is powerful, safe and easy. The M-80 is helpful with textured or rippled glass.

Tips from Janet: Know Your Tools


Probably the most important tool decision you make is your glass cutter.  There are a lot to choose from.  There are two things to consider.  What the wheel is made of and which shape is most comfortable for you.

The heads will be either steel or carbide.  Carbide is more expensive but far outlasts steel.

Most of the steel cutters are what people call “ throw aways”.  That is because they do not have replacement wheels.  When they get dull you just throw them away.  The steel wheels come in different sizes and different angles.  Some are better for soft glass and others for hard glass.  The size and angle determine this.  You can purchase a steel wheel cutter (at this writing) for less than $10.

The carbide cutters are way more expensive.  Some can be in the $40 range.   Many are self-lubricating which is very convenient.  The most common shapes are pencil and pistol.  There is also the saddle and then some more unique ones.

There are also specialty cutters.  There is the Score 1 Cutter that looks like a sewing machine and scores by running the glass through it.  There are circle cutters that cut score with either a single head cutter or with a wheel turret.  There are circle cutters specifically for small circles.  Some circle cutters double as a strip cutter.  There is even one that doubles as an oval cutter.

There are also a series of cutter aides put out by Morton and Cutters Mate.  These are things like jig systems and tools to help break after you have scored.


1.  It lubricates the wheel of any glass cutter and keeps it running smoothly.  Use of cutting oil on the score line significantly improves the quality of the score and subsequent breakout.

2.  It keeps tiny glass chips from lodging between the wheel and the shaft of your cutter.

3.  It is needed to keep the score clean and cool.

4.  It prevents minute chips of glass from flying about.

5.  It preserves the life of the wheel.

6  Fusers don’t like to use oil because it is difficult to clean.  Small amounts should still be used.  Mineral spirits are a good idea because they burn off when firing.