Thursday, December 31, 2020

Symbolic Fused Glass

This is a lesson plan I developed after hearing Preston Singletary speak at the 2019 KAEA Fall Conference.  I think it’s important to remember thy we can be inspired by artist’s big ideas without trying to imitate the look of their artwork. (Full lesson plan at the end of this post!)

First we go through the slides presentation and use that to discuss Singletary’s artwork and big ideas. There is a nice video segment that shows his process and let’s him explain his goals. 


At the end, students are asked to reflect on their lives and what symbols could be used to represent their identity and their story. 

After choosing a symbol they work to simplify it into shapes that could be cut from glass. We have access to glass for fusing so that became the medium for the project. Students learned to cut and grind glass to prepare their work. We used Elmer’s glue or Aloe Vera gel to hold pieces in place until they were fired. 

The plan was to let students cover the edges in copper foil and solder chain to the top so they could hang in a window but we were having issues with the soldering iron and Covid happened before I could order a new one! Thankfully we have a new soldering iron now so we should be good to go if we do this again!
Video game controller design made from glassHorse shoe design made of glass

Speed boat design made of glass

Ice cream cone design made of glass
Glass layouts loaded in the kiln
Glass layouts loaded in the kiln
Finished fused glass tiles
Finished fused glass tiles

Katie Morris

Jackson Heights High School

Advanced Art

Lesson Title: Symbolic Fused Glass

Rationale: This lesson is intended to introduce students to glass artist Preston Singletary and the idea of using symbolism to tell stories.


  1. The students will participate in an inquiry based discussion of glass artist, Preston Singletary’s work.

  2. The students will describe how Singletary used symbolism to tell stories.

  3. The students will reflect on their own lives and make a list of stories that are important to their identities.

  4. The students will brainstorm possible symbols to represent their identities and personal stories.

  5. The students will work to simplify and abstract images into geometric shapes.

  6. The students will demonstrate good craftsmanship and safe use of tools and materials when working with fused glass.

  7. The students will design and create a fused glass design that incorporates personal symbols to tell a story.

  8. The students will consider possibilities and make artistic choices about the function and method of display for their glass piece.

  9. The students will reflect on and explain their work in a written artist statement.


Slides presentation about Preston Singletary

Fused glass book

PBS Craft in America: Nature (Trimmed: )

Tools and Materials

Paper and pencils

Fused glass

Glass cutting tools

Elmer’s glue and Aloe Vera gel (to hold glass in place)


Shelf liner paper

Artist Bio

Seattle-based Preston Singletary (bass and founder of Khu.éex’) is a visual artist, glass sculptor, and teacher who renders traditional Tlingit forms in the non-traditional medium of glass. He has worked globally with Indigenous art communities and artists.

Recognized internationally as one of the leading glass artists of his generation, Singletary has artworks in dozens of museum collections. In 2004 he had a solo exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum. Singletary maintains an active schedule by teaching and lecturing internationally, including an Artist Series lecture at the NAEA 2018 convention. PBS featured his work in the 2017 Craft in America NATURE episode.


Day 1: The teacher will lead the students in an inquiry based discussion about Preston Singletary’s work, starting with an image of his artwork and asking the students questions about what they see and think. The students will try to “read” the symbols to see if they can figure out any of the stories before watching a video of Singletary talking about his work and telling the stories of his people. Next, the teacher will ask the students to follow the design process to develop symbols that tell their personal stories/represent their identities which will be used in a fused glass project.

Symbol Design Process

  • Reflect on your life and make a list of stories that are important to your identity

  • Brainstorm possible symbols to represent your identity and personal stories

  • Sketch pictures of the symbols

  • Narrow down your symbols to the top 1-3

  • Simplify your symbols into geometric shapes

Day 2: The teacher will explain and demonstrate the fused glass process.

  • Start with a solid colored piece of glass as the base

  • Use scrap pieces and the glass cutting tools to create the shapes needed to represent your symbol(s)

  • Layer the glass pieces up to 3 thick

  • When satisfied, glue in place with Elmer’s glue or Aloe Vera

  • Frit (small pieces) can be used to add details

  • The glass will be heated in the kiln on top of shelf liner to a point that all the pieces are fused into one piece

  • After the initial fusing, the piece can be fired again to slump it into a mold, or it can stay flat

The students will finalize their design plans and begin to prepare their glass pieces.

Day 3: The students will finish their fused glass preparations and the teacher will load in the kiln.

Day 4 (after first firing): The students will prepare the work for slumping if desired.

Day 5: The students will reflect on and explain their work in a written artist statement which will be displayed with their work.

Student Examples



I can experiment, plan, and carry out an exploration of a personally meaningful theme, idea, or concept.

I can explore a personally meaningful theme, idea, or concept through multiple works of art.

I can experiment with different media and techniques in the planning phase of art-making.


I can work back into a completed work of art to revise or refine to meet criteria.

I can examine, reflect on, and plan revisions for works of art and design in progress by applying relevant criteria and personal artistic vision.


I can analyze how reactions to art change over time with new knowledge and/or experiences.


I can analyze different interpretations of an artwork and choose one to defend.


I can make meaningful works of art by using my knowledge of social, cultural, historical, and personal life.

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