10 Things to Avoid When Cutting Art Glass for Fusing – Part 2
This article is a continuation from the article titled “10 Things to Avoid When Cutting Glass – Part 1”. It was written to give you some basic rules and guidelines to make your experience a lot more pleasant and successful. I am writing this based on my 25+ years of experience in working with art glass, both stained (copper foil and lead came techniques) and fused glass. I have come to love cutting glass. In fact, it is my favorite part of the process.
So, here is what NOT to do when cutting any glass (Tips 6 – 10), especially art glass:
- 6. Never delay breaking your glass soon after making the score. Glass has a unique property of “healing” itself after a period of time. In other words, though the score may still be visible, it may not break along it any longer. What is happening is that the molecules that have been disturbed near the surface of the glass when the score is made will eventually return to normal.
How long can you wait? I don’t have that answer. It may still break after 5 minutes or 15 minutes or a half an hour, possibly. You can bet that tomorrow it will not break though. Why take the chance? Glass will break the best and the most predictably right after scoring, so go ahead and break it right away, as soon as possible.
- 7. Avoid scoring and breaking too tight a curve all at once and expecting it to break predictably, especially an “inside curve”. Always break curves in stages, a little at a time, in graduated steps, whether it is an outside or inside curve. It just makes life easier, and I am all for making it easy, aren’t you?
- 8. Cutting on the “wrong” side of the glass will make things difficult. By this I mean the side of the glass that is more uneven or bumpy. It will be hard to guide your cutter where you want it to go if it has to go over bumps and crevices. Usually one side of the glass is smoother than the other, so it is better to choose the side that is smoother so you have more control over your glass cutter wheel. In the case of dichroic glass, it may be safer to cut it (and to mark it!) on the side which does not have the dichroic coating, to protect the coating from damage.
Do you know how to tell on which side the dichroic coating is on clear glass? It is difficult to see sometimes, isn’t it? Here is a trick: place the glass against a black or dark surface. Make the point of a pen touch the glass and look at the reflection of the pen point on the glass. Does it look like the point is not touching the glass? Then the dichroic side is face down. Does it look like the point is touching the glass? That indicates that the dichroic side (the metallic, reflective side) is face up. Neat, huh?
- 9. Never force the break when it seems to stop. The trick to cutting glass is to work with it, not against it or trying to force it to do what you want. It is much better to think of it as “coaxing” it to break where you want it to. When you align your breaking pliers (or your hands) on either side of the score, apply firm, steady pressure and just keep applying it until the score seems to stop “running”.
This will tend to happen especially if it is a long score or if you are breaking a curve. When it stops, simply turn your piece of glass around and start the break again from the other end of the score. It usually works like a charm.
- 10. Do not get frustrated! Remember, this is, for most people, supposed to be a fun hobby! Make it enjoyable, make it a game, a challenge, and just have fun with it. Smile when you make a “mistake” because it is not really a mistake. It can be a valuable lesson. We really do learn the most from our mistakes. If everything went perfectly the first time, it wouldn’t be much of a challenge and, consequently, not very satisfying when we finally get it right. Think how great it will feel when you have learned how to do this successfully.
Also, remember, sometimes glass will break badly simply because it is glass! It is inherent in the glass, especially some of the hand-rolled glasses (like Bullseye and Uroboros), that they can be a bit temperamental, so don’t take it to heart. Just start again. Chances are you can still use the piece of glass that broke badly for something else.
I hope some of this has helped and that your glass cutting experience will be easier, more successful, and certainly more satisfying. Enjoy and have a good time!
Thanks for reading this little guide. Happy cutting!