What is the Difference Between Stained Glass and Fused Glass?

You may have seen different fused glass products on the market in recent years and, as pretty as they can be, you might have found yourself wondering “what is fused glass?”, or “what’s the difference between fused glass and stained glass?”. In this article, we go over everything you need to know about fused glass, and how it differs from stained glass. 

So what is the difference between fused glass and stained glass? Fused glass is the process by which various layers of glass, of different types, colours, and textures are literally fused together in a kiln, whereas stained glass is simply coloured glass, made by mixing various oxides into the glass at the molten stage. 

Read on to learn more about the differences between fused glass and stained glass. 

What is Fused Glass?

Fused glass is different layers of different forms and colours of glass bonded, or fused, together in a kiln. Fused glass makers use a variety of techniques to create their designs, including:

  • Slumping – sheet glass is laid over a mould and, as the glass is heated, it begins to slump into the mould. 
  • Casting – Molten glass is directed into a mould where it solidifies.
  • Printing with powders or enamels – Powders or enamels are spread onto a piece of glass using a stencil or screen printer, then fired up to fuse it. 
  • Torchworking – Use of a blowtorch to melt the glass
  • Kiln carving – A technique where glass is stacked in a particular way to form texture or a pattern.
  • Coldworking – Changing the shape or texture of glass using tools that don’t rely on heat. 

What is Fusible Glass Used For?

Fused glass is used for a wide variety of purposes, ranging from solely decorative art pieces, to more practical plates, bowls, jewellery, wall hangings, and even Christmas tree decorations. 

For beginners, swizzle sticks (fancy drink stirrers)  are one of the easiest fused glass projects, using and fusing glass strips together. Keyrings are another simple project, as well as garden stake decorations, when you start to get more confident. 

What is Stained Glass?

Stained glass is simply coloured glass, often used to create a design. Various metallic oxides are added to the glass whilst in its molten state to create coloured, or stained, glass.

Stained glass was discovered centuries ago by trial and error; different minerals and oxides were added to the melting pot to create coloured glass. Although, at the time, they had no idea how it worked. Today we do; various minerals and oxides absorb light at various points in the spectrum, but will not absorb a certain colour, meaning that we see that colour. 

For example, adding cobalt would make the glass blue because cobalt absorbs wavelengths at the red end of the spectrum, but does not absorb blue.

Colours and their associated minerals and oxides:

  • Cobalt – Blue
  • Copper – Red or Sky Blue
  • Manganese – Pink or Purple
  • Iron – Greens and Yellows

What is the difference Between Fused Glass and Stained Glass?

Whilst they may look similar, fused glass and stained glass are created using different techniques. Also, stained glass is usually the term used to describe the coloured glass designs in windows, like those found in churches, whereas fused glass designs are generally decorative ornaments or items intended for use such as drinks stirrers, plates, and bowls. 


As previously mentioned, fused glass is two or more pieces of glass layered and fused together using heat. Other glasswork techniques are also used in this process to create texture, colour, and designs. Stained glass, on the other hand, is created by adding minerals and oxides into molten glass, which is then allowed to set, is cut and arranged into shape. 


Whilst stained glass is used for decorative purposes, it differs from the decorative uses of fused glass. Stained glass is almost exclusively used for window designs, largely in churches, but fused glass is often used for other decorative ornaments around the home, for plates and bowls, garden ornaments, and more. The techniques used in fused glass make it more appropriate for decorative pieces, as more can be achieved. What’s more, fused glass can be used in place of stained glass in windows (but not vice-versa!). 

Can You Use Fusible Glass for Stained Glass?

Fused glass can be used as stained glass, but stained glass can not be used as fused glass. This is due to the technical nature of the temperature of the glass when it cools, affecting the structural integrity of the glass. 

When using fused glass in place of stained glass, the colours and designs are painted onto the glass with powders or enamels, and then fused in a kiln to set the design. 

British-made Fused Glass at Buy Britain

Buy Britain offers a range of fused glass products, made by multiple artists, including Lunar Glass and Glassy Lassie right here in Britain. Choose from striped glass dishes, fused glass suncatchers, fused glass lanterns, and fused glass candle shields

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