Making beautiful jewelry, plates and coasters by fusing glass is much easier than you might think.
All you need is a kiln, glass, and your creative idea.
Although electric kilns can be very expensive, a microwave kiln lets you try this fun hobby for almost nothing.
So do you want to learn how to fuse glass at home?
Then keep reading.
How does a microwave kiln work?
In a conventional glass kiln, heat is applied from the outside and slowly travels to the center of the kiln where the glass is. The more heat you apply over time, the higher the temperature in the center will be. This is a pretty slow process and it might take some time before the glass fusing temperature is reached.
A microwave kiln works differently.
Rather than applying heat from the outside, you apply microwaves. These microwaves travel through the kiln much faster than heat would.
At the inside of the microwave glass kiln, there is a layer of so called ‘susceptor’ material which absorbs the microwaves and transfers it into heat.
Depending the exact model, susceptor material and the maximum temperature can differ. But most of these glass fusing kilns for microwave use can reach temperatures up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit or 1000 degrees Celsius.
Pros and cons of a microwave kiln
|Much cheaper than conventional kiln||Results aren’t always reliable|
|Small sized and easy to store||Lots of trial and error is needed|
|Heats up very fast and saves time||Needs a separate microwave|
The most common reason to buy a microwave kiln is the price. A conventional glass kiln can cost several hundred dollars. While a small microwave kiln costs less than $50.
The fact that a microwave kiln is small, portable, and easy to store is just an added benefit for most people.
However, it is difficult to get consistent results with a microwave kiln. Mainly because you can’t accurately control the temperature inside the kiln.
Therefore, depending on the kiln and the microwave itself, you will have to experiment a lot to find the right temperature to fuse the glass properly.
Finally, people often forget this but for safety reasons don’t use the same microwave for preparing food and for heating your kiln.
Best microwave glass kiln
I normally recommend the microwave kiln by Fuseworks.
This kiln can be used for fusing glass and making jewelry.
You can buy it separately or a the beginner’s kit that includes everything you need to get started.
This kiln is easy to use and seems to be more reliable than most other microwave kilns.
For good results you need to make sure you are using a microwave that uses 1000 W or more.
This probably means that a regular food microwave won’t do.
Microwave kiln instructions: fusing glass at home
Most of the popular kilns out there don’t come with any manual or instructions. Instead, you can often find them on the website of the manufacturer.
Keep in mind though that using a microwave kiln sometimes is more of an art than a science.
You will constantly have to experiment with different fusing times depending on your microwave and the type of glass you are using.
Sometimes only 3 minutes is enough to fuse the glass completely. Whereas other times you will need almost 15 minutes.
Also keep in mind there there are different types of glass. And you might not be able to fuse all of them.
However, most glass fusing kits come with a decent selection of glass pieces you can start with.
Microwave glass fusing projects
If you have successfully fused glass for the first time, you are now ready to start working on countless of new projects. Here are just a few ideas for your glass fusing kiln:
- Wall hangings
- Christmas tree decorations
- Fused glass wave panel
- Lamp shade
- Baby mobile
Staying safe while fusing glass
Fusing glass requires high temperatures so always make sure to take the following safety precautions:
- Read the manual or the manufacturer’s homepage for instructions
- Only use materials indicated in the manual
- Wear heat-resistant gloves
- Place the kiln on a heat-resistant surface
- Turn the microwave off if you see sparks
- Use the kiln in a well ventilated room to prevent smoke inhalation
- Don’t use the same microwave for food and fusing glass
Microwave kiln or electric kiln?
To be honest, a microwave kiln is cheap and fun to play with. But serious artists quickly realize how limiting a microwave kiln is.
For most advanced techniques you will need precise control over the heating rate and the temperature. This is only possible with a electric glass kiln and not with a microwave kiln.
So if you enjoy your microwave kiln but want to take things to the next level, I suggest upgrading to an electric glass kiln.
You can learn more by reading our article on best electric glass kilns.