A while ago I took the girls to an art show and the thing that really caught E's eye was the jewelry and trinkets made out of glass. The artist explained to us that they are made by taking small pieces of glass and heating them in a kiln until they melt together. I love how connections are made: as soon as I mentioned it on facebook, a friend let me know that a local homeschooling group was doing a glass fusing workshop for kids!
We went to that workshop on Monday and learned a ton. The artist first had the kids all sit down and she told them about the history of glass fusing and blowing. She showed them pieces that had been made by the first process used by ancient Egyptians to pieces that had been made using more modern technology. She talked about the natural ways glass is made, like by lightening, meteor strikes and volcanoes. She showed them the difference between opaque and transparent glass. She talked about the elements of glass and how all those elements have to come together just right, with enough heat, to create glass.
Then the kids broke up into groups to look at bags full of colored glass, sort them according to whether they were opaque or transparent and see which ones had been heated at higher temperatures (as could be determined by how rounded the edges were and how blended the colors were). Then next table was where they learned how to cut glass, which was surprisingly safe. They used a knife that was a small, circular blade that would not cut their hands, but put a scrape in the glass when they pushed hard enough and rolled it across the piece. Then they took a clamp and squeezed it right on the line they had made with the knife and the glass broke cleanly along the line. Finally, they got to pick out pieces of glass in all shapes and sizes to put together to make a pendant. E made one for herself and I made one for L since she wasn't there. The artist took them home, attached a loop for the string and heated them in her kiln. We just got them in the mail today and they turned out beautifully!
E is so excited to have a necklace that she made herself!