Fused glass is glass that has been fired (heat-processed) in a kiln at a range of high temperatures up to approximately 1,500℉. Various techniques can be applied to glass work in separate firings to add depth, relief and shape.
Joyce often fires the colour combinations she wants into a glass brick and then uses a diamond saw to cut the glass into pieces. A second firing is required to fuse the glass into a flat plane and then a third firing slumps the piece into it’s final shape. One piece can take up to three days for firing from start to finish. Joyce also uses a screen melt approach for some of the pieces. That means glass is melted through special metal that can withstand very high temperatures into a dam built to catch the liquid glass. The glass is cooled and then cut, reassembled, fuse fired and later slump fired.
When glass is fused, unless the separate pieces are of the same co-efficient-of-expansion the pieces will shatter as the different types of glass cool by contracting at different rates. If the co-efficient is not compatible stress fractures will appear between the pieces fused together and breakage occurs. This means that special glass and glass frit must be used, such as Spectrum glass system 96, which is the high quality glass used in Joyce Sherwin’s pieces. Joyce orders the glass for her art from Lansing, Michigan and it is shipped to Edmonton by truck.
All of the pieces of glass art, from the smallest necklaces to the largest platters are handmade, some bigger pieces requiring hundreds of glass segments cut and assembled and each piece is a unique one-of-a-kind piece of art.