About Me and my Glass
Designer / Maker
Hello, my name is Kelly and I’m the owner, designer, maker, photographer, accountant, packager and everything else associated with Rainbow Lux Glass.
I’m a mum to 7 year old and 7 month old boys. Last year I left my job to concentrate on my glass and it was the best decision ever! I get to spend all the important moments with my children but also get to work with beautiful glass and enjoy my job. I’m incredibly lucky, I know!
I’ve always loved glass. The tactile nature, the beautiful colours. 3 years ago I was struggling with having any enthusiasm for my previous business. I made lots of keepsake gifts using wood, clay, paper etc but my passion for it was waning. Possibly due to the oversaturated market and the fact I just didn’t feel I had enough time to give the business it’s full potential. I decided I needed to try something new, something I always wanted to do. I considered a glass blowing course but although it looked awesome, I quickly realised I’d never be able to afford the set up costs or even doing it as a hobby, then I saw an advert on YouTube for a microwave kiln….. from there my journey started.
I spoke to my partner and told him I’d love to try glass fusing. I’d not really heard of it before, I’d seen some gorgeous makes but didn’t really know how it was made. So I took to trusty old Google and researched for weeks. I was all set to buy a new microwave, a microwave kiln and some glass and tools but then I discovered Creative Glass Guild in Bristol were running courses….my partner suggested going on a course to find out more and to see if I liked it. He paid for me to go on a weekend beginner course. Unfortunately I had to wait months until the course date, so in the meantime I looked into it even more.
The weekend of the course finally came round, I was nervous, apprehensive and excited! I was spending two nights away from my family for the first time so I felt a little lost. Arriving at the Creative Glass Guild, we were all introduced and offered tea/coffee while we waited for the rest of the small group. There were 5 of us in total, I think. Once all seated, we got onto learning about glass, how to cut glass safely and from there, the course went more in depth.
The first day I made 2 tiles, a window hanger and 2 items out of float glass. The 2nd day I made a square bowl. I learned so, so much in those 2 days. My passion for glass just grew from there. As soon as I got home, I decided I wanted to do this. Fused Glass. I spoke to my partner and told him I was buying a kiln haha. And I did! I worked some serious overtime at my dayjob to afford it, and all my set up tools and glass. I had to wait until June for the kiln to be built and delivered but it was so worth the wait!
It’s been 3 years since the course and I’ve learned so much on this journey. I’ve already updagraded my kiln for a much bigger one, I have my own little workroom (which will soon be moving…more on that below), lots of beautiful glass and tons of ideas in my head.
These are photo’s of my very, very first fused glass makes, created on the course I took.
My work area:
I have a workroom which is a converted garage so only have to enter a door and I’m “at work”! This is all soon to change though, as with the arrival of our baby, we need an extra bedroom soon. The plan is to build a workroom in the garden and have my current work space as a bedroom….I wasn’t keen on the idea at first but it has grown on me. I don’t fancy moving the huge heavy kiln though, I think we’ll need help with that!
I have specific areas for different parts of my work. I use a grinder and glass saw sometimes, which can get messy, so these are set up on a table away from everything else. My desk is next to my glass for easy reach. I also have a packaging area which is unsightly and never tidy, simply because I have so much packaging, I could fill a whole room with it. I know where everything is, though no one else would!
I also have a wall decorated with artwork and trinkets from Small Businesses. Its right in my eyeline at my desk and brings me lots of joy to look at. Most of the things I’ve bought I haven’t put up yet, as I’m moving soon!
The Fusing Process
Glass fusing is the technique used to join glass pieces together by melting the glass at high temperature. The fusion process requires multiple pieces of glass. This is done in a kiln. There are different types of glass available to fuse. All glass can be fused but not all glass is compatible! You cannot mix different types of glass in fusing, unless you want them to crack or even explode! This is liable to happen either straight away or years down the line. Some people use float (or window/greenhouse glass), glass bottles or tested compatible Art glass (System 96, Bullseye etc). I personally use Spectrum System 96. I love the colours available, the fact it cuts so nicely and it’s just beautiful glass!
Each piece I make is carefully planned and designed. I research first, make a drawing, then make prototypes and design a kiln schedule for the item/s. I check it won’t be mega expensive to produce, therefore making the retail price too much and not worth carrying on with…..I’ve had a few pieces that were just one offs because they cost too much to make. Art glass and Fusing isn’t cheap and I have to maximise the amount of pieces I can cut out of a sheet of glass. I have a nifty spreadsheet which works it all out for me!
Whatever I’m making, I take the utmost care in creating every single piece.
From start to finish, this is the process of making a piece:
- Cut the glass: Most of the time I hand-cut using a glass scorer. Sometimes, for more intricate pieces or shapes, I use my glass saw and grinder.
- Clean the glass: This is really important as any foreign objects or specks can ruin a piece once firing in the kiln.
- Arrange the glass: Some designs are more time consuming than others. My snowflakes are tricky to make and take a long time – Each one has over 60 individual pieces of glass to arrange! Whether it’s a simple or technical design, I must be careful to make sure everything is joined together so it’ll fuse! Most pieces have two layers of 3mm glass, fused together.
- Clean the glass again.
- Transfer to the kiln shelf, making sure everything is still in place and held together.
- Set the kiln schedule: Different pieces need different schedules, depending on the outcome I want. I won’t get too technical here! The hottest my pieces go is 804 degrees Celsius . A full schedule takes around 14-20 hours to complete, plus cooling down time! Everything is heated in the kiln through a series of ramps (rapid heating) and soaks (holding at specific temperatures) to melt and fuse the glass pieces together. The process also ensures the strength and stability of the glass (annealing).
- Wait out the slooooooow cooling time.
- Inspect each piece before cleaning and either storing or packaging to go to a customer.
- Some pieces go through a second kiln schedule to mould it into a shape or add pieces to it.
The images below show pieces before they’re fired: