- Arts and Design
Art of Melting Glass - Dichroic Glass
Melting Glass For Jewelry Designs
I am sure there are numerous reasons why glass would be melted, but my favorite is creating cabochons for jewelry pendants.
Stunning beyond expectation, unpredictable, brilliant in color and utterly unique, Dichroic Glass is really something to behold.
I have worked with metal and wire to create jewelry for several years, but not until I discovered colored glass did I realize how beautiful and unique my jewelry could be.
I started by purchasing ready-made Dichroic Glass cabochons, but after doing some extensive research, I decided to try it on my own.
It is a complicated, time consuming, and often hit or miss proposition, to create Dichroic Glass. But part of the fun is not knowing exactly what you will get until the firing is completed. No two pieces are ever exactly alike. I love mysteries.
A Short History of Dichroic Glass
Older Than you Think
When I first discovered Dichroic Glass I thought for sure it was a relatively new invention. But this type of glass dates back to at least the fourth century.
Some people feel the Dichroic Glass as we know it today was the result of the research done by NASA, which has been ruled out as a valid assumption for the origin of this glass.
There is a 4th century AD Roman relic in The British Museum known as the Lycurgus cup that closely resembles this glass. So it is probably safer to say that the use of a similar type of glass dates back to ancient times. Going even further back to the introduction of fused glass, we would be looking at 3000 BC.
During the 20th century advances in the creation of Dichroic Glass reached closer to the level that we know it today.
No coloring agents, paints, dyes, or gels, are used in the creation of this glass.
Photo: The British Museum
Exactly What is Dichroic Glass?
Layer upon Layer of Glass
The term Dichroic Glass has Greek roots, meaning "two-colored." But this definition may lead you to believe that this glass is limited to two colors, which is not the case.
A complicated system of temperature, time and the type of glass used can create a prism of different multicolored effects. To me it is the magic created by fusing different pieces of glass at different times and different temperatures.
Of course light plays an important role in bringing out the colors which can change when viewed from different angles.
Photo: Taken by designsbyharriet of my own piece.
How to Make a Dichroic Glass Cabochon - A Fun Way to Make a Unique Glass Pendant
I thought about writing a description of how to make a Dichroic Glass cabochon, but it was too long for anyone to read, so I thought it best to find a video that would make this much easier for everyone to understand.
Sometime Mistakes Can Still Work
I've been in jewelry designing long enough to follow directions or at least check to make sure I am doing something correctly.
So why is it when I put a Dichroic Glass cabochon that I had incorporated in my metalwork into the kiln, I set the temperature at 1500 for two hours? How I could have been so stupid is beyond me.
From what you have learned so far, what do you think the results of that firing would be? If you said I melted the Dichroic Glass, you would have been absolutely correct.
I took the pendant out of the kiln and immediately noticed that instead of a carefully crafted glass cabochon, I had a sprawling piece of glass that looked nothing like what I had put in the kiln.
I know the melting point of glass is around 1500, but did I think of that when I fired this pendant, no absolutely not. So what was I going to do with the end result.? There was a lot of time and effort put into the design of this piece, but clearly it had not turned out as I had planned.
I must admit that my first thought was to put it in the scrap bin to recycle the silver, but I kept coming back to it and wondering if I am missing something. So I didn't have my original design, but did I have something different, something creative, even though it was not my intended creation?
So I took it out of the scrap metal heap, cleaned it in the tumbler, textured it in Liver of Sulfur and realized, I had something I liked.
You can be the judge of whether I made the right decision or not, but I am satisfied that this mistake still worked out well.
A lesson to be learned when combining any stones, glass or otherwise, with metal that is to be fired in the kiln is to check and make sure the stone or glass will not be damaged by the chosen temperature..
Even mistakes can turn into great lessons.
Photo: taken by designsbyharriet of my melted Dichroic Glass cabochon
Another Dichroic Glass Pendant - I Love Making Them
What is Your Experience with Dichroic Glass
Photo: Taken by Designsbyharriet of my own piece.
Have Your Ever Made a Dichroic Glass Pendant?
More information for those who want to learn how to fuse glass and Dichroic Glass.