Recycling Scraps of Stained Glass

Glass globs from scrapYou know how it is. No matter how hard you try, you always end up with an ever-increasing collection of scraps of stained glass that are too small to use in your projects. You’re reluctant to throw away the scraps but you rarely find a use for any of it.

If you haven’t found a use for your scraps then this idea might appeal to you – why not fuse them into globs instead?

An urge to get rid of those useless scraps of glass and make something useful from them prompted me to buy a little microwave kiln. Although microwave kilns come in for a lot of criticism, chiefly because they’re not so easy to ‘control’, I can only counter that they are very cheap to buy, cheap to use and producing globs from scrap glass does not need the fine control and predictability of a ‘proper’ kiln. Another great trait of microwave kilns is speed – you’ll have your scraps turned into globs and ready to use in an hour or so.

In other words, microwave kilns are perfect for the job and worth the investment if you’ve not got a kiln already.

It really is a simple process to make your own globs – just stick a small pile of the same kind of scrap glass into a kiln and give it time to fuse. I stress that you should only use the same kind of glass to ensure you don’t encounter problems resulting from different kinds of glass having different coefficients of expansion. Mix different kinds of glass and you risk the globs shattering either whilst they’re cooling down or at some later date. To be extra cautious, don’t even mix different colours of the same brand or style of glass even from the same manufacturer.

Exactly how long to fuse your scraps of glass depends on your (microwave) kiln and how rounded you want your globs. You will see from the picture that most of the globs I make are approximately round. The result of fusing them for a longer period of time is that gravity and surface tension have enough time to produce nice round globs that are about 6mm deep. Fuse them for a shorter time and you can produce other shapes as illustrated on the right of the picture.

Still not convinced this is a good idea? Well, here are some reasons that might sway you:

  • You can make your own globs at a fraction of the price and in a wider variety of colours and sizes than you can buy.
  • You’ll be making use of useless clutter in your workshop rather than sending it to landfill – environmentally friendly you might say.
  • If you can produce from larger globs that are too big to poke up noses and into ears then give them (or sell them) to children. They seem to love them and collect them in the same way as they might collect marbles, rocks or ‘treasure’.

So, what do you think? Is this not a better idea than doing nothing with your scrap glass?


About chatterglass

Maker of stained glass frippery.
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8 Responses to Recycling Scraps of Stained Glass

  1. Pingback: Glass

  2. is this regular stained glass scraps or fusible glass scraps?

    • chatterglass says:

      Thank you for your question Paula.

      Overall, the basic rule to keep in mind is “only fuse different pieces of glass if you are sure they are compatible with eachother”.

      So, with this rule in mind, I would happily mix different pieces of glass for the multi-coloured blobs of glass if it is all fusible and compatible glass.

      However, this does not stop you from making single-colour blobs of glass by cutting up and fusing together pieces from the same non-fusing glass sheet because pieces of the same sheet of glass must be compatible.

      With non-fusing glass I find that opals tend to devitrify but cathedral glasses tend not to.

  3. Kim Geelan says:

    I have fused scraps of non-fusible and fusible glass to make nuggets for bracelets, earrings, and pendants. I have fused streakie, baroque, cathedral, opaque and dichroic. I have cut 1/3 inch squares and glued 2 pieces from the same scrap in a star shape, which forms a round nugget when fused. I have purchased 96 COE scraps of black dichroic and fused 96 COE clear on top of it. The dichroic nuggets feature the pattern of the dichroic.

    • chatterglass says:

      Thank you for your comments Kim. Stacking squares by rotating the top piece to form a star shape is a good tip. This works well because the melting star-shape glass is closer to circular than a square stack. This results in much less “processing” for surface tension to pull the edges into a nice round shape. For big blobs of glass I sometimes modify this idea by stacking and rotating octagons (squares with their corners removed).

  4. Pingback: Secrets of the Microwave Kiln | Chatter Glass

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