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Dana Worley, Fused Glass Designs

Learn more about fusing!
While there are commercial fusing molds available for various light switch configurations, they are, of course, all based on standard flip switches, rocker switches, and outlet sets. The challenge with this installation was that to balance the light switch visually on the wall, a commercial mold could not be used.

Close-up of the existing switch plate
Wireless Black 3 Gang 1 Way Touch Switch For Lights 86I measured the wall and switches carefully, and together with the client I concluded that a 5×10” piece would be suitable for the 18” space. We also made the choice that she would replace the existing “old style” flip switch with a more modern (and easier to work with!) rocker switch.

After working with the client to choose the glass, it was time to get to work. She chose a lovely piece of Spectrum’s fusers reserve with blue, amber, and white swirls on clear. I decided to use the flow of the glass to influence the design. I would use the swirls within the fusers reserve to represent water, after which create fused glass pebble embellishments. The base of the piece would be white.

The first step was to carefully draw the outline of the plate on cardstock and cut the base glass, and then cut and assemble with the fusers reserve and clear on top. This layup was fired to a full fuse.

White base glass
Layout of fusers reserve on base

Into the kiln for a full fuse
After fusing I checked the sizing of the switch and outlet openings with a plastic switch plate I picked up at the local big-box hardware store, after which later at a friend’s house who has double-rockers. I knew that the glass would move some and I would have to make adjustments – these were wired timer switch done with a small ¼” 100 grit diamond bit on my grinder.

Among the pebbles were enhanced
with reactive red
Prior to the second fusing I visited the client’s house to double check the fit. I had already done a test fuse on the “pebbles”with the initial firing, and brought a few of those along so she could get an idea of what I was thinking. She was excited with the design and loved the colors (which is always a relief!).

In order that the switch plate would have an edge that rounded down and sit flush on the wall, I placed it on a piece of 1/8” fiber paper for the final firing. The fiber paper was cut just slightly smaller than the switch plate, and I did not cut out the fiber paper for the rocker switch holes. This firing was a tack fuse (almost a contour fuse), with a conservative annealing schedule. My “cry factor” on this piece was pretty high (I didn’t want to do this again!), so I annealed for two hours to ensure there can be no stress around the contour-fused pebbles. After this firing was completed, I used the plastic switch plate as a template for the screw holes. To drill the holes, I used a Dremel tool with a Flexi-shaft and a diamond bit.

Installed Switch Plate
For the installation I brought along my Dremel and my plastic dish pan that I use for submerging glass in water and drilling holes. While the piece fit before the tack fuse, the glass moved some (I was expecting that) and i wanted to be able to regulate the piece where necessary. In the end, I drilled the upper right screw hole a little larger, and slightly trimmed the correct edge and top of the right rocker switch hole.

At this point essentially the most difficult part was being able to see behind the plate well enough to secure the screws into the outlet hardware. I joked about how many educated adults it took to put in a switch plate (seems it’s three – one to hold the plate in place, one to handle the screwdriver, and another to look on in wonder, laugh, and hold the flashlight.) We were careful not to tighten the screws too tightly, so that no stress was put on the glass.

This was a high stress project. The fit had to be precise, and there were several points of risk in completing the design — proper annealing, drilling the holes, and even the installation. The clients were very happy with the piece, and offered to act as a reference if I needed one. They even began talking about another custom piece to cover up the base of an overhead light fixture.

“Sure!” I said. “Just let me know if you end up ready.”
Besides… How hard can it’s

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