Staff Blogger: Allison Seemann, Print/Visual Communications Intern

As the Print/Visual Communications Intern and editor of the Lakesider newspaper, I receive the list of arts classes from the Rhein Center, and every week I scan the list to see if I want to take a class. Of course, I want to take them all.

One particular class kept popping up, and I finally decided to sign up. I logged onto and signed up for my first Rhein Center class. The next Wednesday, I would be cutting glass for my first Fused Glass Bracelet.

a3Going into the class, I had no idea what I was going to be doing. I had only done glass fusing one other time when I was little, so I couldn’t remember exactly what skills it required.

My two-hour class started at 1:30 p.m. When I got there, all the tools I needed were laid out on a big wooden placemat.

I had two pairs of plyers, one for big pieces of glass and one for the intricate pieces of glass. In order to use those, I needed a glass cutter, which was also on my mat alongside some tweezers and a ruler.

Lined across the entire table were plates of glass, ranging from as long as a finger and as wide as three fingers to as small as a splinter you would get from sliding your hand over a piece of wood, hence the tweezers.

a1The glass pieces were all sorts of colors. Some were solid colors and some were patterned colors. Some even had designs already in them, that when fired would turn shiny. Those were my favorite.

Once I took this all in, I got to pick the bracelet I wanted to use. I chose a gold bracelet with 13 circled links, which meant I got to make 13 different pieces to put on those links. Not knowing what I was doing, I sat there and watched some experienced women cut and break the glass. I mimicked their moves, and I was on my way.

I grabbed the glass cutter and scratched a line along the glass piece I wanted to cut. Then, grabbing the plyers, I put the newly scratched line from the glass cutter in the middle of the plyers and squeezed them, resulting in a clean snap in half.

Once I got all the pieces I wanted cut, I had to stack them in layers of two or three. You want to put the plain colors at the bottom so you can see the shiny pieces or designs on the top.

a2In order to keep the glass together for firing, we used some watered down glue to stick the glass together. I used just about every color of the rainbow to make the 13 pieces plus three extra just in case I didn’t like some.

The next step was waiting for the pieces to get fired, which needed to happen overnight. Once they were fired, all the jagged edges on the glass became smooth and rounded.

Then, the next day, we came back to glue our fused glass pieces onto our bracelets. We were given strong glue to put one little dot on the back of each piece so they would be securely attached to the round golden links on the bracelet.

a4They turned out really awesome. Some were shiny and some were clear. A couple of the already designed pieces turned out really neat because some change colors during fire.

The Rhein Center has a lot of classes to offer, and I can’t wait to go back again. I think my next stop will be at the Cup of Kindness station or maybe rock painting.

What has been your favorite class at the Rhein Center? Tell us in the comments below.