How to Make a Fused Glass Pendant | Wes Michels Blog

Posted by Wesley Michels-Ratliff on

Dichroic glass refers to a process of coating a thin layer of metals onto glass in a vacuum chamber.  This process has famously been used by NASA in spaceship applications, due to its ability to deflect heat & light.  Depending on the micron-level thickness, different colors radiate and shift, shifting with the angle of view. 

From Latin for two colors, dichroic refers to this thin layer of metals. Dichroic glass is not necessary to make a fused glass pendant.  Other starting materials can include frit (coarse-ground colored glass), stringers (thin colored glass strips, similar to spaghetti) or a selection of small cuts of multicolored glass.

When fusing glass, it is important to always use the same coefficient (COE).  The coefficient refers to the rate of expansion of glass.  As it melts, glass expands and contracts as it cools. If the COE does not match, glass will crack during cooling.

To cut glass, a jeweler must first mark a line, called a score, on the glass.  A glass breaker tool is then used carefully to break apart the glass along the scored line.  To make earrings, colored glass layers are equally cut down into small squares.  These squares are kiln fired to around 1550F, which transforms them into a water droplet shape.

Glass is subject to thermal shock, so the kiln is slow-cooled overnight after firing.  The following day, the newly formed earrings and pendants get a groove cut around the edges.  This makes a perfect path for wire (silver, bronze or copper) to be wound around the piece of jewelry.

With a little clever planning, spirals or other wire-work can be added to the front of a pendant.

Add a chain or cord necklace and the pendant is ready to be worn and enjoyed.