The holiday season is here, so it’s time to decorate the house! We here at Wissmach designed a fun and cute fused glass tree ornament project to help. The video shows each step in the process described below. We also list the firing schedules. We encourage you to watch the video and then use the below tutorial as a reference. Let’s get started!
- 9 1/8” x 2 3/4” COE 96 sheet glass
- Medium clear frit
- Small pieces of glass to cut strips for cabochons + tree trunks
- Pure copper wire
- Pure aloe vera
- Isopropyl alcohol for cleaning
- Lint-free towels
- Papyros paper
- Tree shape template
1) Make glass cabochons.
To begin this ornament project, we need to make glass cabochons. The glass cabochons will become your tree decorations. You can use any color of opalescent or transparent glass to make the cabochons. It is important to note if using luminescent glass styles, the coating may burn off during this project.
To make the cabochons, start by cutting strips of glass. These strips can either be 1/4″ or 3/8″ in thickness. I like to make a whole kiln shelf of cabochons at once because I can use them in many projects. After cutting the glass strips, clean them well. Once clean, use a mosaic cutter to nip the strips into small pieces close to the same thickness. You can also use a glass cutter for this step, but a mosaic cutter will be much faster. Direct the bits of glass into a clean dustpan or an empty frit container to catch them.
Place the pieces of glass on a kiln shelf with Papyros paper and fire them using the following schedule.
|Cool to room temperature
Since the pieces of glass are so small, there is no need to anneal!
Once the cabochons are cooled, clean them and remove any Papyros paper residue. I like to use Spartan Glass Cleaner, but you can also use isopropyl alcohol or white vinegar mixed with distilled water.
(Editor’s note: For those unfamiliar with Spartan Glass Cleaner, it can seem a bit pricey at first glance when you look it up. But 1 quart of the concentrate makes 5 gallons of cleaning solution, which ends up being quite economical. Especially when considering what a critical step it is to properly clean your glass to get the firing results you want. Wissmach doesn’t sell or get any kickbacks from Spartan – we just trust Drew’s recommendations and want you to get the best results possible.)
2) Cut your tree shapes.
The next step in the project is to cut the shapes to create the trees. We included a tree pattern for you to use. Using the pattern will make your cuts more efficient and reduce the scrap glass you produce. Cut your glass to the size of the pattern, trace the trees, and then score and break out the trees using running pliers. The video shows this process in detail. The pattern will give you six pieces. Six pieces are enough to make three tree ornaments.
The glass for the tree trunks can be any color you like. If making three tree ornaments, cut six pieces of glass a half inch by a half inch (.5”x.5″).
3) Cut lengths of copper wire.
Cut a one-and-a-half-inch (1.5″) length of pure copper wire for each tree ornament using tin snips or pliers. The wire will be the loop from which the ornament hangs. You can also add decorative ribbon through the loop if you like.
The most important thing is that the wire is 100% pure copper. If the wire is another metal that is copper coated, it may not withstand a kiln firing.
Bend each length of copper wire into a U shape.
4) Clean your sheet glass.
Now that all of the pieces for the tree ornaments are ready, it is time to start assembling. The first step is to clean the sheet glass. For this step, I recommend Spartan Glass Cleaner. You can also use isopropyl alcohol or white vinegar mixed with distilled water.
5) Lay the first layer of glass on the kiln shelf.
If the Payros Paper is still in good shape after removing the cabochons, reuse it. If not, replace it. Lay the first layer of glass for the tree and trunk on the Papyros.
6) Add a little 100% pure aloe.
Next, brush a bit of 100% pure aloe on the top of each tree. The aloe will make sure the copper pieces will stick to the glass. If you do not have aloe, use a dab of Elmer’s Glue. Add the copper. When placing the copper on the glass, I find it’s best to do so at a slight angle. Doing this protects the shape of the tip of the tree. You can see how I do this in the video.
7) Add some Wissmach Medium Crystal Clear frit.
Lay down a piece of paper to catch the excess frit. Place the top pieces of glass for the trees on the paper. Next, brush aloe (or some Elmers Glue) on the entire surface of each piece of glass. Finally, sprinkle the frit on each tree shape.
When all the pieces have frit, lift them off the paper and gently place them on the first layer of glass on the kiln shelf. Place the top layer of your trunk as well.
8) Add your cabochons and fire your ornaments.
The last step before firing the ornaments is to add the cabochons. Place as many as you like.
Fire your pieces in a kiln using the following schedule. Make adjustments if needed to suit your kiln’s capability.
|As Fast As Possible
|Cool to room temperature
9) Clean the Papyros residue from your ornaments.
Using the same cleaning methods as before, clean any Papyros residue from the backs of your ornaments.
10) Enjoy your beautiful ornaments!
Decorating for the holidays is always more fun with handmade ornaments. I hope this tutorial adds a little more holiday cheer to your season.
If you feel so inclined, share photos of your creations with us. You can post to your own page and tag @wissmach_glass on Instagram or @wissmachglass on Facebook. Or post in our Friends of Wissmach Glass Facebook Group.
Happy Kilnforming and Happy Holidays!
-Drew Kail, Wissmach Kiln Consultant