Saturday, January 22, 2011

How to Make Layered Dichroic Jewelry - Part 2

This post is a continuation of a tutorial on layering dichroic glass to make gorgeous fused glass jewelry. For the first part of the tutorial, check out this post...

So, the layered dichroic tile came out of the kiln and looks wonderful. I usually let it sit for a few weeks so I can enjoy the full effect of all that sparkle :)

After I've got an eyeful, it's time to think about cutting this baby down to size. I want a bunch of pendants, but the cabs you'll create by cutting the tile down work great for rings, purse hangers, mosaics, name it!

I've begun to cut my dichro tile down a bit... I just use a regular glass cutter (my preferred cutter is my Toyo pistol grip, no oil necessary). For the first few cuts, you need to remember that:
A) This tile is thick! All the layers fused together have made this tile about 1/4" thick. Thicker glass is tougher to break.
B) When scoring glass, stress can build and fracture the glass at unforeseen points if you're trying to break off too little.
The beginning tile was about 4" x 4." When I attempt to score and break my glass, I don't try to take off less than an inch, initially. Once your pieces start to get smaller, it's easier to cut them down into smaller and smaller pieces, to a point.
When breaking the glass initially, a regular pair of running pliers doesn't really work. IF you can squeeze really hard, the tile MIGHT break. The tools I use to break the tile are:

1) A hammer - you can tap lightly on the underside (opposite side of your score) of the tile all the way along your score. Eventually, the piece should knock off where you asked it to. Sometimes, you will be surprised. This gets harder to do as the pieces get smaller. But, by that point, you can switch to your running pliers.
2) The Morton Glass Works Safety Break M-80 Tool - I was able to use this for the very first time on the thick tiles last Saturday. You have to squeeze fairly hard, but it breaks really well! The Morton website has some really great videos that make cutting glass look like a breeze.
3) Diamond Blade Saw - If you've got access to a wet tile saw with a diamond blade for cutting glass, you can make very accurate and exact cuts. If it's a ring saw, you can even cut custom shapes. This is a costly tool, but you can sometimes have the local stained glass / fusing shop cut the tile for you, or even show you how to cut it for yourself.

If you're not crazy about the raw dichroic on the edges of the tile, you can nip them off with mosaic nippers. These pieces can be piled together when you put them back in the kiln and will form a puddly cabochon with lots of sparkle.

Once you've finished cutting all of the pieces, it's time to put them back in the kiln.

Each kiln is going to fire a bit differently. This is just a recommended firing schedule, and I'm using my "Little Miss" Caldera kiln with a 6" shelf.

For a nice, clean edge that holds the shape of the cut, you'll fire to approximately 1420 degrees F and hold for 5 minutes. Since my studio is really cold right now (we're in the middle of a blizzard), I slowed the ramp up to 500 degrees per hour to 1000; then continued AFAP (as fast as possible, or 9999) to 1420 and held for 5 minutes. Follow this segment with your annealing schedule back down to room temperature.

This schedule will soften the edges without globbing out of shape.

For my scrap bits, I'll throw those in the kiln AFAP all the way to 1480 for 8-10 minutes. I want these pieces to be rounded and full fused. They're all really small pieces, too. So, they won't shock from the heat on the way up.

Look for my last post in this series on attaching the bails with No Days BailBond...


Steve Smith said...

Lovely work and nice blog. :o)

Diamond Blades said...

The blog is really informative.. And you have done a great work.. Thank you..

Calyx Ann said...

Thanks a bunch! As an addendum, I found a great illustration for using a hammer and pencils as a running plier set up over on's new tutorial on making puddles.

barbarago2012 said...

Thanks for sharing your process - I loved reading it and it has stimulated my creativity to try your process - I'm thinking of incorporating it in my metal form folding jewelry - I will definitely come back to read more of your tutorials. thanks Barbara


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