How to make a fused glass flower
Learn how to make a fused glass flower with these easy-to-follow, step by step instructions which cover studying your flower, outlining petal shapes, cutting the glass, shaping the edges, assembling the flower, building the center, adding more texture, and ideas for your finished fused glass flower. Making fused glass flowers is a lot of fun, and the beautiful delicacy of flowers translates especially well into glass.
- photograph or image of a flower
- permanent marker
- glass cutting tools- pistol-grip cutter, running pliers, and wheeled glass nippers
- glass assortment- streaky or wispy transparent for petals, a color for the center, clear
- glass stringer in pale yellow or white
- fine yellow frit
- silicone baking mat or other nonporous, flexible surface
- Elmer’s school glue
- small paintbrush
- tweezers (optional)
- small scoop or spoon (optional)
Study Your Flower
To make things simple, begin with a photograph or image of a single bloom. Take a look at the color palette within the bloom itself. Notice how the individual petals vary, and how lights and shadows fall. You will want your fused glass flower to capture the organic qualities present in the image. Your fused glass flower should be built with attention to the way an actual flower grows. Petals grow in patterns. For example, a bloom with six petals typically has one layer of three topped with a second layer of three at a different angle.
Outline Petal Shapes
Because your flower will be tack-fused to show dimension, begin with the petals furthest away in your image. Locate an area of your streaky glass which most closely matches the color of the first petal. Trace or copy the petal shape onto the glass with a permanent marker. If the entire petal does not show, fill in the rest of the shape as though it were visible. Remember that your glass is going to be layered, and you will need a good foundation for the upper petals.
Cutting the Glass
Use the pistol-grip glass cutter to score an arc into the surface of the glass around one side of the petal. Do not try to follow your outline exactly. The goal is simply to remove the petal from the larger sheet of glass, so a gentle curve is best. Use the running pliers to break the glass along the scored line. Now score and break the excess glass from the other side of the petal until the general petal shape is free.
Shaping the Edges
Wheeled glass nippers cut chunks and small bits of glass very nicely. By holding the nippers at different angles, you can chip out small indentations and waves from the edges of your flower petal. Remember that nothing in nature is perfect, and it is the many imperfections which create nature’s diversity and beauty. The main thing to avoid when shaping your petal is perfectly straight edges. Use the wheeled glass nippers to cut the glass into the shape of your permanent marker outline. The edges of your flower will smooth a bit in the kiln, so do not worry if you have a few sharp areas.
Assembling Your Flower
Once you have finished selecting, cutting, and shaping all of your flower petals, you can begin arranging them. Lay the pieces on a nonporous, flexible surface like a silicone baking mat or piece of Teflon. This will simplify removing the flower if any glue seeps under it. Play with the arrangement a bit, pushing the petals around until you have determined how they best fit together, and remembering to position them in layers to mimic your photo or image. Use small drops of Elmer’s School Glue on the surface of the bottom layer of petals to attach the second layer. The second layer should bridge the gaps between the petals in the first layer such that each top petal overlaps two bottom petals. Use bits of clear glass if needed to support the upper petals. Be sure to cut them smaller than the petals and glue them to the backs of the upper petals. Scraps of clear cut into organic shapes (no straight edges) work well for this.
Building the Center
If the flower is open to show the center, a small chunk of glass will be needed in the middle. This is positioned after the petals are glued into place. Cut a chunk of glass to fit down into the center, and a second, larger chunk to cover the center and slightly overlap the petals. Remember to chip the edges a bit. The pistols and stamen of the flower are hinted at with small lengths of the narrow glass stringer. A yellow or white stringer works best for this. Break the stringer by snapping it between your thumbnails. Your pieces should vary in length. Arrange them with tweezers or your fingers. Gently pinch (or use a small scoop) a small amount of fine yellow frit and sprinkle it over the pieces of stringer in a circular or arc shape, depending on the angle of your flower. Use a fine paintbrush to sweep any unwanted frit off the petals or to arrange the frit in the center. Drip a small amount of GlasTac over the center to hold the stringers and frit in place. Sometimes the GlasTac will move the stringers or frit slightly as it spreads. Reposition them if necessary with the tweezers.
Adding More Texture
When the glass begins to melt in the kiln, it will droop down a bit. To add more dimension and visual interest to your fused glass flower, you can accent it with the scraps of glass leftover from cutting out the petals. At this point you will be making a departure from your photo or image. Just set it aside and look at your glass flower. Take a few leftover scraps of glass, taper them at one end, and chip the edges organically. Attach these to the top layer of petals, shaping the non-tapered end to meet with the flower’s center’s outer edge. Around the center of your flower you can add tiny chunks of glass to build up the edges more and bridge any gaps. When the glass fuses together these extra bits and pieces will smooth a bit, but will give wonderful texture to the fused glass flower.
Finishing the Flower
When your flower is completely dry, you should be able to pick it up gently and transport it to your kiln. Tack-fuse it to preserve the texture. Your fused glass flower can be used in all sorts of ways. Glue a wire loop to the back of it to make a suncatcher, or even a Christmas ornament (think Poinsettia); glue it to craft projects such as mirrors or photo frames; use it as a paperweight; add it to other fused glass projects; or turn it into a wall hanging, to name a few.