Glass Blowing vs. Glass Fusing

Often when I mention that I am a glass artist I get asked if I blow glass. Usually this leads to a discussion about glass blowing vs. glass fusing.

Myles Freedman

Myles Freedman blowing glass in the hot shop.



Blown glass is created using a technique that involves inflating molten glass into a bubble with the aid of a blowpipe. The glass is then manipulated by swinging it, rolling it on a marver, shaping it with tools or in a mold. While working with the glass it is important to keep the piece evenly heated and not allow it to get too cold. This is accomplished by placing the glass piece in a glory hole on a regular basis or by heating it with a torch. Most glass blowing is done at a temperature between 1,600 °F and 1,900 °F.

This coral was cast in the kiln.

This coral was cast in the kiln with a mold.

Although fusing glass is very popular today, it was just as popular in the golden age of Greece and the Roman Empire. With fusing the glass is softened and shaped in a kiln. Fused glass is sometimes called kiln formed, warm glass or, kiln-glass. Many different techniques can be deployed in the kiln depending upon the desired results. Slumping, draping and casting are all methods done within the kiln. Most glass fusing occurs at temperatures between 1,100 °F and 1,700 °F.

Glass blowers often call fusers “bakers”. Fusers sometimes call blowers “flower, pumpkin and marble makers”. Despite the good natured teasing both blowers and fusers are passionate about their craft and share a love of glass – it’s just that their approach to the medium is very different.

Pink and Blue Glass Vase

Pink and blue “lingerie” vase fused by Julie Coll and rolled/blown by Myles Freedman.

Recently there has begun to be some collaboration between blowers and fusers. This started with fusers wanting to roll their glass panels and have them blown into vessels. They desired to stretch their glass options beyond the kiln and explore alternative shapes and forms.

My background is based in glass fusing but I am starting to learn glass blowing. I have a big trophy project currently in the studio that I am completing with a glass blower, Myles Freedman. It has been fun to work together and see our different approaches to glass.  I’ll post more on the trophy project next week.