One of the fastest and easiest ways to improve your fused glass art and dramatically expand your design style is to develop your glass cutting skills.
The beauty of working with fusing is the simplicity of the medium. Many people come to the craft with little or no glass cutting experience. Due to the ease of fabrication and wealth of readily available information, they’re successfully producing attractive pieces from the start.
But if you’re now tiring of the simple cut and assemble methods that got you started and longing to move in a more advanced direction, a small dose of technique is the jump start you need.
It may seem like a trivial topic to address, but your project complexity is in direct relation to your cutting confidence. In other words, the better you cut, the more likely you are to venture outside of your comfort zone and take on more challenging projects.
Here are some tips to get you started.
1 Consistent pressure.
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take a heavy hand to make a good score line on glass. What it takes is consistent, medium pressure from the very beginning to the very end of the score. The glass cutter should, “sing” as it rolls over the surface of the glass. It’s a pleasant, consistent sound beginning to end. It’s not a cringing grinding noise. A good score is visible its entire length. But it’s not messy and littered with thin splinters. The grinding noise and splinters are signs you’re applying way too much pressure.
Many beginners start strong but let up the pressure as their hand moves farther away from their body. In this case, breakage tends to occur ¾ of the way down the score line. Beginners believe the score comes solely from the hand. A good score comes from making your wrist, elbow and shoulder one rigid tool. This combined strength and rigidity helps you apply consistent pressure the entire length of the score even at an awkward distance from your body.
When cutting an unusually long piece, I turn the glass so I can run my score right to left instead of away from my body. This way I can move my body along with my hand and more easily maintain the consistent pressure needed for a successful break.
2 Cut on the smoothest side of the glass.
In some cases, I prefer the look, color or pattern on the textured side of a sheet of glass. I turn the glass over and cut on the smoother side and then simply turn the glass back over when I assemble my project. The glass cutter wheel will have better, more consistent, contact with the glass the entire length of the score if you cut on the smoothest side.
3 Beginning and end.
Try to start your score as close to the leading edge of the glass as possible without falling backward off the glass. Apply consistent, medium pressure from the very start. End the score as close to the far edge as possible without falling off the glass. Repeatedly falling off the glass edge will damage the cutter wheel and could possibly cause the glass to shatter.
4 Use the right tool for the job.
Use a strip cutter or circle cutter when applicable. Accuracy is key for professional quality artwork. These tools give your work consistency. Plus, they save material by reducing waste and breakage.
When cutting strips, I cut a few more than I need and select the best, straightest strips for my project. The extra pieces find their way into smaller projects, pot melts or free flows. Nothing goes to waste.
Whenever possible, I opt to use running pliers over grozing or breaking pliers to break glass away from a sheet. Running pliers give the most reliable results. They work best if the glass being removed is at least as wide as the rubber tipped plier jaw. When breaking narrow or small curved pieces away, I choose grozing plies because the narrow jaw fits in tight places and allows me to get close to the score line.
5 Use paper patterns.
Don’t hesitate to cut around a paper pattern to include an intricate shape in your work. This is a terrific way to transition away from strictly geometric designs and into pieces with lively organic elements.
Glass wants to break in a straight line. To cut rounded shapes, we make a series or gradual curves and break the excess glass away in steps until we have a glass shape that closely resembles our pattern.
When cutting around a paper pattern piece, cut as close to the paper as possible without running into it. Beginners tend to cut a wide safety halo around the paper. It just postpones the inevitable. Be brave. Go for it. If the glass is going to break unfavorably the halo, no matter how heavenly, won’t prevent it.
Something to build on.
The more time and effort you put into each step makes the next step easier and the finished product that much better. Don’t rush a project just to get it in the kiln. Give it the time it needs and produce your best work, every time. If you have to ask, “Is this good enough,” it probably isn’t. Do yourself a favor, re-do that piece or step. You can thank me later when you’re doing the, my piece came out awesome, happy dance.
Go ahead. Cut it up!
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Artist Website www.LisaVogt.net
Author Website https://lisajvogtcom.wordpress.com/
NEW Upcoming Wee Webinar!
DIY Pendant Lights with Lisa Vogt, February 4, 2021
Register here: https://www.glasspatterns.com/glass-patterns-quarterly-store/product/1516-new-wee-webinar-diy-pendant-lights-with-lisa-vogt-february-4-2021.html
Design, fabrication and installation by Jake and Jessie Battin
Custom pendant lights are a wonderful way to add a custom, personalized touch to your family’s hub, the kitchen. In this special event I’ll share treasured fun and creative family time in my glass studio with you. You’ll follow the design and construction of two beautiful pendant lights as my daughter and son-in-law dive deep into the world of glass fusing to create beautiful fixtures to light up the loving center of their new home.
In this concentrated, live event you will learn how to make 2 stylish fused glass pendant lights from start to finish. We will show you step-by-step how to create an attractive design, how to cut large glass circles, and how to create three-D design elements that pop. In addition, I’ll share project specific firing guides I developed to successfully fuse, tack and drape pieces with an intricate free-form shape.
As a bonus, we’ll share images of our ugly, but lovable, test piece. You’ll learn why we didn’t like it and how we adjusted the project assembly and firings to achieve the results we wanted.
Plus, we will show you how easy it is to drill the holes needed to accommodate the light fixtures. And we’ll demonstrate how to assemble and install the lights.
Also included, you’ll receive a tools and materials list that includes detailed information about the draping mold, the glass drill bits and the lighting fixtures we used.
All DIY creative enthusiasts are invited to attend. Enjoy the thrill of renewed inspiration, motivation, and artistic freedom after seeing how easy it is to add your own personal, artistic touch to your home.
My April 2021 class is SOLD OUT!
Sculptural Fused Glass, 4-Day, Hands-on Workshop May 25-28, 2021
Register today! 4 seat available.
Wesley Chapel, Florida, 4-Day, Hands-on, Class size is limited.
This is the turning-point workshop you’ve been waiting for.
It’s hard to describe what it’s like when I’m feeling the creative flow. Time flies. Hours pass in what I thought were minutes. My naturally distracted mind is focused on what my hands are doing, and nothing else. I get lost in my own world. When I return to reality, I feel rejuvenated and spiritually uplifted. That’s why I like sharing my studio space with others. I try to give them that experience and hope they feel the same inspiration and fulfillment I do. -Lisa
This class is for you! Any skill level can attend. Beginner, intermediate and advanced students alike will learn how to advance their glass fusing skills and expand their artistic style.
Join me and I’ll show you all the pro tips and tricks I use to make stunning 3-dimnesional art. You’ll learn how to combine advanced techniques in new ways to create extraordinary sculptural pieces of art.
You’ll leave class with several completed glass sculptures, my custom firing guides and a deeper understanding of sculptural fused glass fabrication. You’ll have the knowledge, confidence, and inspiration you’ve been craving to take your artwork to the next level.
Materials are included, that’s a $150.00 value!
Here’s what the students from my recent November 2020 class are saying about the workshop.
“There is a wealth of material, tools and possible projects. Lisa is very motivating, informative, and supportive. The variety of materials is amazing. The number of projects we made in 4 days is beyond what I expected. The classroom set up was very well organized. I felt completely comfortable and safe with plenty of space and sanitizer. This class was beyond my expectations.” -Jane
“My favorite thing was Lisa’s knowledge and wealth of information. I was surprised by how many projects we made. I was very comfortable with the classroom set up and loved everything about this class. I learned so much and it was fun. My least favorite part was Friday at 4:00 pm.” -Liz
“My favorite thing about this class was the variety of glass and other materials. Unlimited dichroic! I was comfortable with the classroom set up; Lisa had lots of little personal touches that made it special. Thanks for the wonderful lunches!” -Gail
Student comments from previous classes.
“My favorite part about the class was the non-stop building and the generous amount of materials available. What surprised me about the class was how full the schedule was. Usually, you do 1 project. We did 5 in 4 days. Thank you so much for your generosity.” -Christine
“My favorite part about the class was the variety of projects we made. What surprised me was the number of projects we completed. Awesome experience – will come again in the future.” -Monica
“Instruction was clear, help was always available, and Lisa’s explanation of the equipment was great.” -Sherry
“My favorite thing about the class was the friendly atmosphere that encouraged open thoughts and sharing ideas.” -Lyn
“I enjoyed making all the projects, especially the flow piece and the freedom to be creative with our work.” -Joy
“My favorite thing about the class was the ability to see multiple pieces of art that originated from concepts taught.” -Vicki
“Lisa is very professional, knowledgeable and freakishly talented. House, art, mosaic, her work – really fun and beautiful.” -Lorna
“Incredible class. Lisa shared her artistic knowledge of color flow and her technical knowledge of glass.” -Larry
“I had so much fun! Lisa is a great teacher!” -Brenda
NEW Artwear Designed for Artists by Artists Tell them how you really feel with bold T-shirts, Eco-conscience tote bags and sassy mugs.
Watch it NOW! Start fusing today!
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