At least once a year, during the week before Christmas, my best friend Katie and I set aside a day to spend together. One of our rules is that we have to do at least one thing that we haven’t done before. This year, it was glass fusing, which involves creating a picture with colored glass and then having it fused and shaped into a platter, bowl, etc.
Before I get into the details, there’s something I should mention. I think craft projects are awesome. They’re super fun, provide great bonding time, and are generally amazing experiences. For example, I’ve done pottery painting half a dozen times with different groups of people, and I’ve always had a blast.
The other thing about crafts is that…well, I’m bad at them. Really, really bad. My artistic ability is in the negative zone. I literally have trouble drawing a straight line with a ruler. I’ve managed to glue my fingers together and glue my hand to a table (not even at the same time). My nine year old niece does better work than I do, and I’m sure that the four year old will eclipse my skill level any day now.
My point is that I’m in it for the experience, not the final product. However, I discovered some really cool things about glass fusing, like…
Glass fusing is hard to mess up.
So you start by choosing the size of the piece you want to make (different sizes cost different amounts). Then you’re given a pane of clear glass, like so:
After that, all you have to do is put colored glass on it and move it around until you have it looking the way you want. It’s that easy. There were lots of examples of amazing artistic designs around, but I know my limitations, so I decided to go with something a little more abstract. For an inept artist like myself, it was perfect. There were tons of precut glass pieces available, so I started with those.
As you can see, I originally planned to use mostly big pieces, largely because I thought I would be less likely to mess it up that way. However, as I started rearranging things (and watching Katie, who’s much better at this kind of thing), it really hit me that…
Glass fusing really allows for trial and error.
One of the things that gets me with a lot of crafts is that once I make a mistake (and I make so many), there’s no going back. You can’t get the paint off the canvas, or reconnect a piece of cloth you cut after measuring in inches instead of centimeters (not that I’ve done that…more than five times). Pottery painting is especially unforgiving, because I just can’t visualize what the glaze is going to look like after the piece is fired. Oh, and because I tend to drip paint all over everything.
In this case, though, I didn’t have to commit to anything until the very end, so I had total freedom to experiment. I went fishing around in the smaller precuts and even, with some coaching from the shop’s owner and encouragement from Katie, tried out the cutting tools. I ended up taking off my safety gloves to give me a better chance of cutting straight (and before you ask, I definitely was not successful with that) and didn’t even cut myself once (you really have no idea how big a deal that is for me).
While I was rejoicing over not needing my miniature first aid kit (yes, I came prepared), I reflected that…
Glass fusing is fun.
Katie and I were having a great time talking, giggling, and experimenting with our designs. The projects didn’t take our full concentration, so we were able to socialize. Because the process wasn’t too difficult, we were excited to see our creations taking shape. Because (as previously mentioned) it was hard to mess up, we didn’t feel any pressure or frustration. Before we knew it, the time had come to glue down our major design elements, and fill in the gaps with glass dust.
Then we decided on the shape of our final products (I chose a candy dish, but there were several options), paid, and left them at the store to be actually fused and finalized. A week later, we came back to pick them up, and that’s when we realized…
Glass fusing is totally worth the price.
We each spent about $38 to make our projects. Before we went back to get them, I got curious about how much it would cost to buy a similar item outright. So I did a little research and discovered that we’d probably be looking at $25 minimum (for a basic design like the ones we made). So if we ended up with something worth having, we paid, at most, $13 each for a really fun afternoon. Given that I’ve been know to spend more than the $38 total cost to make pottery, paintings, etc. that I would never want to show anyone, it’s a total bargain.
And I think my candy dish actually turned out pretty well. Here it is again:
It’s my understanding that glass fusing is available in a lot of pottery and craft stores, and Katie and I found several local options with a quick Google search. If it’s in your area, I highly recommend it, for the artistic and fumble-fingered alike.
I’m definitely going to do this again.
Have you tried glass fusing? Any suggestions for other activities I should try? Let me know what’s on your mind.