Fuming is a subtle and delicate way of coloring glass with pure silver and/or gold. It has only been around for a few years but has steadily gained popularity since Bob Snodgrass made it a sought-after technique.
The process sounds simple:
- Snip some 99.9% silver or 22k gold
- Heat up a small diameter borosillicate rod and stick it to the snips creating a “punty”
- Hold to the tip of a flame
- Capture the metal vapor in the piece to be colored
- Encase it with clear glass
However, this is a complicated process that takes years to perfect. Each metal requires its own unique flame setting and creates its own colors. The more fuming on a piece the more colored it will become.
Silver creates blues, whites, and maybe with enough fuming a yellow color. Gold requires a hotter flame and is known for purples, reds, pinks, or even burnt orange. If the fuming isn’t encased before the flame touches it again, it may evaporate.
Transmitting colors are what you see as light passes through the piece. Reflective colors are simply the colors that are reflected back.
To see the true aspects of the fuming, place the piece in front of a white background to see the transmitting colors and a black background to see the reflecting colors.
Depending on the time in the flame, ratio of metals, and background, the entire color spectrum is possible.
Will uses fuming in some of his pendants. For example, the star clusters are created by shaving the silver and heating them just a little to create some fume without vaporizing all of it. This slight fuming gives the stars a “glow.”
This complicated process has been tried with other types of metals with no success. Harnessing smoke to get the desired effect requires significant skill and practice.