Updated: Nov 10, 2022
What it takes to make fused glass art, how Ebbie got started in glass and the tips & tricks she's learned over the years. Read along to see how Ebbie makes her Christmas plug-in night light.
Don't forget to join us November 17 at our valley location for a Christmas ornament class taught by Ebbie. Space is limited, so get your tickets now!
When Ebbie Shellans started at The Bohemian in 2020, she wasn't sure she had what it takes to succeed as a fused glass artist. Since then, she's continued to grow in her craft, creating everything from framed glass hearts to vehicle scene panels. Now, she's even teaching classes.
To make her pieces, Ebbie uses a special combination of glass types, often experimenting in her home studio to create new designs. She likes to use every last scrap of glass, which often leads her to create unique designs like her Christmas plug-in night lights. Each finished piece is one of a kind, inspired by the scrap glass pieces she has in front of her.
What is glass fusing?
Glass fusing is the process of bonding compatible pieces of glass using a heat source like a kiln. The glass pieces are often differing colors and shapes, creating a dynamic art piece. Unlike the better-known glass blowing, glass fusing does not require industrial-based equipment and can be done in a studio. Also, unlike other glass artforms, the artist can take their time designing, as the glass is worked on cold and only heated to bond the finished piece together. Fused glass can be used to create anything from platters, bowls, jewelry, paperweights, magnets, and other artistic creations.
Christmas Plug-in Night Light
In preparation for our new Holiday line, Ebbie walks Boho Babe through how she makes these one-of-a-kind Christmas night lights.
Ebbie starts by cleaning each piece of glass that she plans to work with. This helps her remove any oils or fingerprints, which cause the glass to lose its shine once fired. She uses a towel and a special glass cleaner made of vinegar, distilled water and alcohol. This mix doesn't leave any residue that might appear on the finished piece.
Ebbie uses a large navy piece as her backdrop. She adds a circular piece of silver foil to act as her moon, using a glue to anchor it in place. She will later cover her moon in glass to protect the foil from completely melting and add some additional glitter. Once her moon is placed, she can begin planning out the rest of her winter scene, beginning with the snow.
The snow covering the bottom section of the night light is made from a "raw edge"--the naturally uneven outer edge of a full glass sheet. Each glass sheet is handmade from the manufacturer, so every single one of them has a slightly different raw edge. In making her snow, she incorporates this unique part of the glass sheet, using its shape to base the rest of her design off of the way the white flows on the background.
Once she picks a raw edge piece, she cuts it to size using a glass cutter. She swipes the glass cutter across the piece, fracturing the glass in a straight line, and then uses plyers to snap the glass along the line she just created. Most of her cuts are eyeballed according to the size of the background piece she chose. Before she glues each piece down, she cleans them again with the same glass cleaner.
For the trees, Ebbie uses scrap pieces of green. She mimics nature in this design, including three trees as, "nature loves threes." She places one smaller tree on top of two larger trees, trying new combinations of scrap pieces until she finds a placement that she likes. She then cuts a small piece of green to fill the crevice between the two larger trees that will back the smaller one. Without this, her smaller tree will droop into the background as it softens in the kiln. This extra piece ensures the tree will retain it's triangular "tree" shape.
This step is often the most time consuming for Ebbie, as she has to find a piece that won't disrupt the design but will still offer some stability. Ebbie finishes each tree by cutting down and adding small brown rectangles for stumps, again adding an extra piece to back the middle tree. She glues each glass piece down after cleaning them.
To finish each Christmas night light, she adds fine iridescent clear frit over her moon to hold the foil down. The final color of the foil will vary based on its exposure to air within the kiln. She adds more glue to the foil to catch the frit, and then scoops an ample amount onto the foil moon. For her final touch, Ebbie squirts glue over the top of the entire scene and sprinkles on a courser iridescent frit to act as falling snow.
Each piece is then fired in her studio kiln at 1375 to fuse the glass pieces together and finish the look.
Add a touch of Christmas to your space
Find these Christmas plug-in night lights at both locations soon! Great for a bathroom or kid's room, these plug-ins add a fun touch of Christmas to any small space that might otherwise be difficult to transition into holiday decor.
Join us next month for an ornament class taught by expert Ebbie Shellans. Snacks and supplies are included in the ticket price. Spots are limited, so get your tickets soon.