Trial and re-trial…the learning curve

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Joseph, I am a fused glass artist in the LA area as well. I also know John at Pacific Artglass, and get most of my supplies from him.

I finished my MFA in warm glass in 1990. At the time, no-one was doing more than melting Wasser glass in small enameling kilns. My work was huge, heavy, deep slumps, thick casts….basically, impossible. I was also working with copper in my glass. My equipment consisted of one home made, over-used, underbuilt, RIT student monster we called the Kiln of the Immaculate Conception. Enough said.

I made many costly mistakes in my endeavors. Lots of “flowing” leaks, full melt-downs, the whole disaster thing. I documented in detail every one of them, and made many more, but never the same, mistakes again. After countless replaced elements and glass soaked brick pried out and redone,  I finally succeeded against all odds. My 110 page dissertation is a testament to insane perseverance. You can see the results in my retro gallery under “thesis” at

My point is, if this is what you really want to accomplish, then keep trying. Don’t let equipment or lack of money stop you. Document, document, document, and ask anyone who will listen to you. They won’t all have the right answers, of course.

My solution of the meltdowns was:1) to do a solid pour (needed to buy an engine hoist to do this :*{ ) because at the high range, the mold materials striate (split apart) at the seams if you don’t have a continuous pour; 2)reinforce your mold with something like chicken wire. Make sure to not have any exposed to the glass or the air, though; 3) Additives in the mold mix help.  I can share my mold mix recipe (not commercially available, but you can get the stuff and make it yourself…very old-school) if you email me at I can give you my number, too, if you want to talk about ideas. My humble mix held up to 2200 + without failing, and that is containing 350 pounds of lead crystal cullet. I melted down poor little Fenton crystal teddy bears and birds who were Fenton rejects…their little heads blurring together in veiled swirls. So sad. Also slumped Bullseye clear for the figures…much easier.

Here’s my newest piece from my Winter collection. Less insane, for certain. Hope you like it.Fused glass with inclusions 14"x11"

Anyway, best of luck! Let me know how it goes. Maybe we’ll meet up around town…Pacific has a Sweetheart sale coming in Feb. that I might go do.

Happy Baking!

Cynthia Ann Swan, Terra Pax Studio, Los Angeles, CA

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