When I think of the history of glass and the many uses that glass has, I truly believe that it is a miracle substance. Consider that it comes from sand, so plentiful and so mundane. Consider that examples of glass art and artifacts have been found from as early as 2000 B.C. There are museums full of complete, intact vials, bottles, medallions and figurines from thousands of years ago!
One can think of the most common uses of glass, from ordinary residential and office windows and architectural decorative brick, to safety glass in automobile windshields and impact-resistant glasses and goggles, but think of the many other uses that glass has been applied! It is used in fiber optics to carry communications signals thousand of miles in seconds – the signal travels at virtually the speed of light along the hair-thin glass strands!
I recently visited the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY and watched the glass-blowing demonstration. The person who demonstrated his skill had 35 years of experience behind him and, according to him, “…lots of mistakes and shattered glass.” Though it looked simple enough, it takes a real master to make wonderful gems like this one made by Mike of Gimmebeads on etsy. This is an splendid example of hot glass and the glass-blowing technique.
Mike, aka Gimmebeads, also does beautiful lampwork. Here is another example of his exquisite creations:
I’m fascinated as well by what is known as “warm glass.” How does Chauncey get those little pictures into her pieces? Here’s one of my favorites in Chauncey’s shop on etsy.
Glass can be a real challenge when painting on its surface. There are certain glass paints that require surface pre-treatment, and the results are not always permanent, but there are also paints that will become permanent after curing in an oven at a relatively low temperature. Monti of GlitznGlass on etsy does a fabulous job. Here’s one example of her lovely work:
One of my very favorite collectibles is American Brilliant Period Cut Glass. Back in the late 1800s, manufacturers of glassware started to make lovely bowls, vases, pitchers, plates, and many, many other pieces of cut glass. Rather than one expert making one piece, the manufacturing process required several steps and several experts. The cut glass of that period in the U.S. was exceptional and far exceeded the beauty and sparkle of anything European, simply because the silica in the United States, particularly in the eastern part of the country, was superior to silica in Europe. To make the pieces sparkle and ring when “thumped,” and to allow intricate and deep cuts characteristic of ABP cut glass, lead oxide was added to the molten glass. Sadly, upon the outbreak of WWI, when lead oxide was needed for munitions, the ABP Cut Glass era ended abruptly. However, there are still many fine examples of this wonderful glass remaining and are in great demand by collectors (like myself!). Among my favorites is this gorgeous vase, "ruby cut-to-clear."
I was introduced to stained glass, also classified as “cold” glass, when I took a course on a whim four years ago in an evening Adult School setting. I was hooked from the first night. Four years and 50+ pieces later, I am still learning. I think, of all the pieces that I have made, that this is perhaps my favorite. It's 18" x 22", and hangs from a hand-crafted cherry wood stand. I made the panel for my daughter for Christmas three years ago because Vermeer's "Girl With a Pearl Earring" is her favorite piece of classical art, and I was excited to try to render the likeness in stained glass.