I’m curious about something. In the posts related to “Jewelry with
cabochons” ending April 27 (I’m a little behind my Orchid reading)
there are several that mention fused glass. Is it my imagination or
was there some negativity toward this material? I can understand
some irritation about referring to fused glass as a “stone” and
certainly don’t like to see bulk fused glass with two dollar silver
chains and a fifty cent plated bale offered for $90.00. But as
someone who spent a lot of years cutting and polishing cabs I find
creating fused dichroic glass to be just as involved and a very
beautiful material with silver and gold. So I’m curious * do you all
use it? What do you think of it? Is it a step child material? Because
honestly I just don’t see really nicely crafted pieces of gold,
silver, and glass as being all that common at shows and in galleries.
And, I almost never see it mentioned on Orchid. 20
Still using my father’s and grandfather’s equipment.
Is it my imagination or was there some negativity toward this
There is no question that glass work has the potential to be every
bit as beautiful and artistic as any other medium, but I think there
is a bit of negativity about glass jewelry elements. I, myself, used
to do lampworking, and I played with slumping and fusing glass, but
ultimately rejected it as too fragile compared to stone. I also feel
that a lot (though not all) of the glass cabochons and beads out
there tend to be on the garish side. Mostly, though, it is fragile,
and I think buyers are reluctant to pay a lot for a piece of jewelry
with glass in/on it.
Larry, I recently found the joys of glass and I LOVE IT. My silver
work has really gone to the side. I tried to make beads but have no
talent on that front, but the fused glass and d-glass is just a dream
to work with.
I do notice at shows, I still have customers say, "oh and what kind
of stone is that? " I was saying, “Glass”, now I go into much more
detail about how I cut and prep the piece as well as the firing for
them to get the full value of the piece I am selling.
My newest craze is adding organic material and burning it off in the
kiln and seeing the effects. I did a very lovely piece with shamrocks
for St Paddy’s day. I still enjoy adding silver wire wrapping to the
glass, or a silver encasement. My husband is the cabber in the
family. I guess I just like the fire too much smile
The hard part is getting a nice picture so I can put it on the our
webpage (not that I sell much from that) I notice people prefer to be
able to pick up and see what it is going to look like on them, that
is how I make my sales.
But I am just under 5 yrs in the jewelry buz, still have alot to
If anyone knows of any groups like this that cater to warm glass,
please email the info offline. I would enjoy hearing what everyone
has to say !
Hi Larry -
I love fused glass and I love to make the glass pieces that I put
into my work. So you won’t find any negativity here! I agree that it
can be very beautiful.
But, I do notice negativity to glass in general in jewelry because
it’s not stone. And also a little bit because it seems that often
"glass" equals “beading” which also is kind of a stepchild. If glass
is a stepchild, it’s in good company!
You post an excellent question to which there is much debate. The
"typical" glass fuser tends to fuse cabochons and use them as just
as came from the kiln. The traditional fuser is not a metalsmith.
They work primarily in glass tending to wire wrap rather than bezel
set etc. Wire wrap is easy. All that’s needed is a groove around the
perimeter of the cab. This practice makes many of those pieces look
the same IMHO.
This is one area that I don’t fit the mold. I am a glass fuser
however I am also a metalsmith and a lampworker. Many of the pieces
that I build are three dimensional that are carved and polished then
set various ways in silver or gold. Often times I’ll set the glass
using a faceted stone or even a pearl as a highlight. Pink
tourmalines and dichro really work well together. Add a niobium neck
wire and the piece just dazzles the eye.
Hopefully I haven’t ruffled the feathers of the fine glass folks on
the board. My goal is simply, TURN IT UP!!! Glass can be so much more
and no, it doesn’t have to be dichroic.
I don’t know what you mean exactly by a step-child material, are you
referring to the common perception that glass has to be less
valuable than semi-precious stones? I guess consumer education is the
I think fused glass has as much status as an art jewelry material as
any other stone/material. It all depends on the workmanship, which is
true for any material - Amethyst can be a beautiful cab or a tumbled
chip, it’s the quality of the original stone, cutting, polishing and
setting that makes the final product either a piece of art or a piece
of junk. The same goes for dichroic glass. I have to admit that I
find the dichroic glass pendants strung on rubber cords that sprung
up en masse at the malls everywhere don’t qualify for art or good
craft status. Most of them are just cut-up factory produced dichroic
strips that have been fire polished. Have you noticed that most of
them are either square or rectangular? Whoever makes them doesn’t
even have the skills to make something with rounded edges.
I make my cabs from glass chips that I get from a well known
Australian glass artists who makes his blown vases from 5 to 12
layers of glass and foil. I cut the chips, reassemble them in 3- 5
layers and fuse them several times to achieve the desired effect.This
multi-step process is quite complicated and time consuming, but I am
very happy with the results, especially since it looks nothing like
the mall-quality dichroic squares. I set mine in silver. Of course
all this time spent pushes the prices up, but I think a discerning
customer can distinguish with a “naked eye” the mass produced glass
squares from a beautifully crafted multi layer glass cab and pay 10
times more for it.
Ruslana (still in the process of creating a same-name brand for my
No, there is certainly no bias against fused glass or dichroic glass
on my part. In fact, much of what I have seen is very lovely,
creative, well executed,and well set. But unfortunately rarely are
they seen at shows. I remember some spectacular pieces of jewelry
incorporating glass that were featured some years ago in either
"Ornament," or American Craft." They were just fabulous. It would be
nice to see more work using non-traditional materials in creative
The person I was referring to was like the one you described—mass
producing stuff that took little skill, imagination or creativity.
The stones," were glued in plated bezels, and hung on cheap chains,
or rat tail.
I’ve been making fused glass and fabricated sterling silver jewelry
since 1994. Until recently, the only people who bought it were people
who were dichroic glass fans.
Over the years I’ve seen jewelers who work mostly with natural stone
cabs also buying dichroic cabs from fusers and selling dichroic glass
jewelry set in silver or gold. In CA, this has helped to bring
dichroic glass more into the mainstream. People who bought “natural
stone” jewelry used to walk past my booth at shows and ignore my work
because it was glass. I well remember the days when dichroic glass was
considered a “second class” material because it wasn’t natural. I
think this stigma has passed for some of us. Now people often walk
past my booth and gravely inform each other that I’m working with
opals. Apparently, many people can’t tell the difference. If they
stop, I am quick to inform them that my cabs are actually glass, not
opal, and that I make them.
In the past couple of years, most of my customers are people who buy
my jewelry for the design and quality of my metal work and not the
glass. Yes, they’re fascinated that I create the cabs as well as the
settings, but they’re buying design now.
Someone in this thread asked for a link to a website for glass
jewelry discussion. There’s a glass jewelry discussion board on the
www.warmglass.com site. And yes, I happen to co-moderate it, with the
site’s owner, Brad Walker.
I am pleased to see the favorable responses about fused glass as
legitimate jewelry. I have definitely seen over the last 7 years the
change in perception that glass (especially dichroic glass) is
“synthetic” and “not as good as natural stone” to being accepted
even by the stubborn older (i.e. decades of experience)
The unfortunate part is that there is so much bad glass out there
that the really good stuff gets lost in the vast sea of mediocrity.
I have seen people offering classes on fusing whose own work looks
like they’ve fused only twice in their life. They teach people how
to work a small kiln, the basic of glass fusing and then send them
on their way, never refining or expanding on the process. This can
give an overall impression that glass (especially dichroic) is junky
and costs too much for the low quality available. There are “glass
artists” who will slap together a couple of layers of glass with a
little bit of dichroic, add a little wire or glue it on to a cheap
base metal bail and sell it as jewelry. This doesn’t leave an
exemplary impression overall.
Most of my cabochons go into sterling silver bezels. However, I have
had the pleasure of seeing some of my dichroic glass cabochons set
into beautiful gold bezels. My cabs were certainly nice by
themselves but the quality craftsmanship and richness of the gold
simply made for stunning pieces. Glass can be as cheap looking or as
expensive looking as you want it to be. It only requires skill to
make a quality glass cabochon and then a quality and unique setting.
As an aside, I have noticed a slow and subtle decline in the
popularity of dichroic glass. I think that the market is beginning
to flood with it now being made in India, China and (still) in
Mexico. Glass is still popular but I feel that a new look or process
is needed to reignite the market. I don’t know what that it is yet
but I hope that some glass artists out there will take up the
challenge soon. I know I am!
in Las Vegas, NV where it’s already too hot and only getting hotter
About time you showed up, Geri. Yes, another glass worker and fine
metalsmith doing fabulous work.