Suellen Parker, of Case Island Glass, creates her pieces by a process known as “glass fusing”. The process involves heating carefully sized pieces of glass with the same co-efficient of expansion (COE) to high temperatures, causing the pieces to melt or “fuse” together. Each piece is hand made and fused, often involving several separate firings.
Suellen starts off with large sheets of Bullseye glass. The starting shape of the piece is hand cut using diamond-edged etching tools. Next, she hand cuts smaller pieces and are stacked on the base. On some designs, she uses thin glass rods called “stringers” to create straight lines. She takes care with colors, because colors may subtlety change during the firing process.
The assembled piece is then placed in a kiln for the initial firing. Controls are set for the rate of heating the kiln, the fusing temperature (approaching 1,500 degrees), the time to hold the fusing temperature, and the rate of cooling. The entire firing process, including cool down, takes 12 or more hours.
The result of the first firing is a flat glass with the various pieces fused together, sometimes fully fused into a single flat piece, and sometimes tacked, where the individual pieces retain a portion of their shape. Each flat glass is a unique and distinctive piece. The flat glass is now placed on a mold that will give it a shape as a bowl, dish, or other functional object. The piece is fired again, with different temperature and time settings. The flat piece slumps into the mold and is then finished.