Glass fusing part sheets are a great way to add interesting elements to your pieces. They can be used in so many ways. It all comes down to your creativity.
In this glass fusing tutorial I will cover just one method to make a part sheet. It is simple, but very flexible and gives you many choices as far as colour combinations etc. The method is strip construction.
So What is a Glass Fusing Part Sheet?
In case you aren’t familiar with what a fused glass part sheet is, it’s a simple concept. A part sheet is a sheet of glass that you have created with a pattern. This sheet can then be cut up into elements that can then be incorporated into your pieces in whatever way you choose.
It can be a single sheet, such as 3 mm (1/8 inch), with a pattern made using something like glass frit or glass stringers, or a fully fused 6 mm (1/4 inch) sheet, or even a much thicker sheet if you wish. All depends on what you are using it for. It can be opal or transparent, or any combination. It can be almost anything your creativity mind can imagine, that you can make, of course.
Something to be aware of is that if you make a 3 mm part sheet, watch when cutting these with the normal scoring method. It may not snap cleanly if there is texture to the surface. Try scoring on the smoother shelf side. I have a ring saw and usually use that for cutting all part sheets.
In this tutorial I am making a 6 mm thick sheet that I’ll be cutting up with a Taurus ring saw. In later posts I will show just how I have used part sheets in a few pieces. This photo here shows a quick look at how I used a piece of this part sheet. In the upcoming tutorial about this project I will talk about how to fix the wobbly lines you can see, the edges, slumping etc.
And What is Strip Construction?
The other question you may ask is what is strip construction. Well, it’s the construction of a piece by combining a number of glass strips into some pattern. Simply cut up a bunch of strips of glass in various colours, then place them on edge side-by-side, in whatever pattern you desire, then fuse together into a solid piece.
Let’s Make This
For this part sheet I decided on a blue theme, with a combination of opal and transparent glasses. So the colours I used were transparent Light Aqua (1408), transparent Turquoise (0116), transparent clear and opal White (0013). All the glass used is Bullseye 3 mm glass. My part sheet was going to be large, 270 mm (10.6 inches) square and 6 mm (1/4 inch) thick.
After deciding the colours I wanted, I set about cutting a bunch of 6 mm wide strips. You can just cut up a bunch and hope for the best, or you can do some maths to work out how many strips of each colour you will need. Me, I cut a bunch of strips to start, and then cut more if needed. Any left over got put aside for future use.
However, to be more efficient with your glass you probably should do some maths. If that’s what you prefer, have a look at the Calculation Example below. Or just skip over this and wing it like I tend to do.
To do this calculation, you will need to decide how many colours you are using, the percentage of each colour to be used, the dimensions of your part sheet, and the direction you will be running the strips.
For example, lets assume you are using 4 colours in equal amounts (25% of each colour), the final part sheet will be 100 mm x 200 mm x 6 mm thick (3.9 inch x 7.8 inch x 0.25 inch) and you will run the strips along the long side. Because you are making it 6 mm thick you logically know that your strips need to be 6 mm wide (the final thickness of the part sheet). And then they need to be 200 mm long (the long side). But how many do you need?
Here is a formulae for working out the number of strips of each colour. Do this calculation for each colour.
Number of Strips = (Adjacent Side * Colour Percent) / Sheet Thickness
Our example – (100 * 25%) / 3 = 8.3 strips. Round this up to make it 9 strips. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to make the part sheet an exact size, due to the thickness of the glass you are using and its inherently inaccurate nature.
So in this example you will need 9 strips, each 6 mm (1/4 inches) wide, of each colour.
- Adjacent Side – This is the adjacent side to the way you are running the strips. In this example, we are running strips along the long side (200 mm side) so the adjacent side is the 100 mm side.
- Sheet Thickness – The thickness of the glass sheets you are using, normally 3 mm.
- Colour Percent – The percentage of the colour.
By the way, if you are making your part sheet thicker than 6 mm, you will have to dam it on all sides to stop the glass spreading out. Remember, molten glass will always want to spread out to its natural thickness of 6 mm.
Once you have all your strips cut and cleaned, prepare your shelf and start laying up the strips on edge, in whatever pattern you desire. Now you will always need something to dam along the strip side to support the strips as you build your pattern, and to keep them together firmly in the kiln. As the dam material will go in the kiln, I use strips of kiln shelf material that I cut from an old kiln shelf. To protect the shelf I use Bullseye Thinfire kiln paper, and the dam material with some fibreboard. You can use whatever you prefer. Kiln wash for the shelf, fibreboard for the dams. No big deal, as long as it works.
On the kiln shelf, setup your first dam piece to hold up your first strip and continue laying up the strips until completed. You can see the dams in the photos above. When finished laying up the strips, dam the end to keep the strips upright and check they are all firmly packed together. Due to sheets of glass not being exactly 3 mm thick and even sometimes a little bowed, just do the best you can. A few small gaps shouldn’t be a problem. Even up the ends of the strips as well.
Then into your kiln for a full fuse. The firing schedule I used is below. It is for a 6 mm thick piece. If you are making a thicker part sheet, just dam it well on all sides, and adjust the schedule for a thicker piece.
Here are a couple of photos of the completed part sheet, fully fused. Now don’t panic because the strips look a little wobbly on the top side. Have a look at the bottom. There you will see nice straight lines of colour. In a future post I will talk more about this and how to use the elements in a finished piece.
So give it a go. Try making just a small part sheet. Maybe something that can form a feature in a nice platter or bowl.
Any questions, please just comment and I will try to answer as best as I can.
Please be aware that all kilns fire differently and this schedule may not produce the same results in your kiln.
Full Fuse – 6 mm Part Sheet
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