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Firing Painted Glass

Photos by Katie Bielamowicz


Firing Painted Glass

A Kiln Story: Flowers standing in the sun

Recent Q&A: Brick repair


By Larry Pile

Photos by Katie Bielamowicz

As an artist with a long-time fascination around Japanese culture and art, I recently developed a line of fused glass pendants that feature painted Japanese kanji.

This article will describe the process step-by-step. The kanji symbol I’m painting in the pictures is the symbol for “the present” or “here and now.”

I start by using a template to cut my pieces of fusible glass in a square. The pendant pieces pictured have a background of black Spectrum 96 glass with a foreground of various Spectrum fusible colors. I have applied the same techniques to opaque, cathedral, clear, and dichroic glass as well.

Depending on the style of bail or snap-ring used to attach the piece to the necklace cord, I may also drill a 2 mm hole for the snap ring before ever attaching the foreground piece and before firing.

Once my pieces are cut to a uniform size, I use a tool called an Air Pen to apply my kanji characters. The Air Pen is air-operated and was originally developed for silk painting. It forces any kind of liquid through a very fine needle-shaped tip. The tool comes with various sized tips for liquids of varying viscosity and for thinner/thicker lines. I tend to use the finer tips to apply dark Glassline glass enamels.

Once the kanji characters are applied and have fully dried (just a few minutes), I use gel-glue to glue the foreground piece to the background. I keep the glue off of dichroic glass because it tends to discolor the dichroic upon firing.

I then assemble the pendants on the kiln shelf of my Paragon Fusion-10 or my Paragon Caldera and tack-fuse the pendants, insuring that the square pendants don’t excessively round while firing. Once the pieces have cooled in the kiln, I attach the bail or snap ring and then ready the pendant for final sale.

If you have any questions, I may be reached via the below e-mail address or website. I hope you enjoy this technique and adapt to your own work! /


Thank you, Larry, for kindly sharing your glass painting technique. Katie Bielamowicz did a great job shooting the photos.



Carol Lambert of Sandman Glass in Rigby, Idaho wrote, “It was a busy day, and I was not thinking. I was fusing a beautiful hand-cut amber stained glass 13" serving platter. I felt it was one of my best art glass pieces.

“It was in the last stages of firing, and I was excited that it was almost done. I decided to take a sneak peek. I couldn't see my pyro gloves nearby, so I grabbed a rag to protect my hands from the heat while opening the kiln. When I did this, the rag caught fire, which flashed my art glass piece right above the flowers on the left side. I now call this piece ‘Flowers, Standing in the Sun.’ It is one of my prized possessions.”

As Carol found, a kiln can give serendipitous, magical results.

Please learn from Carol’s story. Use only fire-resistant gloves or Paragon’s lid lifter to touch the hot kiln handle.


Q. I just replaced my sidewall elements, and a 3” long soft brick groove broke off while doing the job. How does one go about gluing it back into place?

A. Small sections of element groove are difficult to cement back into place, because the section that is to be cemented is so narrow. Instead, secure the element with an element pin.

Should you decide to cement the piece, use kiln repair cement. Temporarily lay a piece of paper around the element to prevent the cement from touching the element.


I wish you a relaxing Labor Day weekend. It will be a good time to make beautiful things with your kiln.

Thank you,

With best wishes,

Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. – Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd. Mesquite, Texas 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 /

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