All About Glass
All About Glass
This is your resource for exploring various topics in glass: delve deeper with this collection of articles, multimedia, and virtual books all about glass. Content is frequently added to the area, so check back for new items. If you have a topic you'd like to see covered, send us your suggestion. If you have a specific question, Ask a Librarian at our Rakow Research Library.
It doesn't get more complicated than this! Here is the Renaissance Venetian way of making an ornate dragon-stemmed goblet. Pre-made parts are attached using small bits of molten glass as "glue."
A spectacular demonstration unique to glassblowing, ice glass was widely popular in Low Country cities like Amsterdam during the 17th century. Did the abundant canals of Amsterdam and of Venice, where the process was invented, inspire this watery idea?
Decoration in glassblowing at the furnace doesn't get more basic than this. Although it looks easy, glassblowing students struggle for weeks with every step forward!
Everyone knows that wood can be sanded to change its finish; surprisingly, so can glass. Specialized grinding blocks coated with industrial diamonds are best, but regular sandpaper works too.
The next time you're in the dentist's chair, know that the grinding you hear—and feel—could also be taking place on a piece of glass! The very same tool can be used by artists to create beautiful engraved effects.
Learn about how glass is colored with Corning Museum of Glass experts. Colored glass is made by adding small amounts of metal oxides to the batch.
Here is the most sophisticated glassblowing process used to make the simplest of all forms: a cylindrical tumbler. The second most important tool after the invention of the blowpipe, the soffietta is used to make the work easier with better results.
Some of the first glassblowers working in Italy—perhaps as early as 30 BC—made blanks for craftspeople accustomed to decorating hardstone objects. The glassblowing process required two contrasting glasses, usually blue and white.
Essentially the same as lathe cutting, the engraving lathe is generally used for small-scale projects often involving the creation of extremely fine details, such as the eyelashes on a portrait.
See and understand the magical process of making glass from simple materials, by using great heat. Until the most recent times, glassmaking was a closely guarded secret passed on within workshops or even families from one generation to the next, often over hundreds of years.
"Annealed glass," "safety glass," "tempered glass"...Confused? Learn the differences through these Glass-breaking Demos.
Grinding is a process of removal by abrasion. People were grinding stone tools long before the discovery of glassmaking.
Here is everything you might want to know about how cut glass gets its decoration. Battuto cutting, much loved by contemporary Venetian glass artists and their followers, is also shown. Incredibly ancient in origin, the process is still widely appealing.
Here is the easiest, most modern way of decorating the surface of a piece of glass. A young child can sandblast competently! In the hands of a sophisticated artist, though, effects both subtle and dramatic are possible.
Throughout glass history, workers have needed to saw pieces of glass cleanly. Using string and gritty mud-like slurry, ancient Egyptians and Greeks, for example, spent days accomplishing what the modern electric diamond saw does in seconds.
While the mechanization of pressing glass into a mold is a 19th-century American development, the basic process was known almost from the beginning of glassmaking. Here the process is shown in its simplest form, using an open-faced mold and molten glass.
Gold decoration has been popular since Egyptian times. Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic workshops also used it frequently. Beginning in the Renaissance, gold decoration became an indispensable part of the Venetian style.
Alternately using different colored glasses, plunged into different shaped dip molds, to build up a variety of layers, a stout cane is drawn. When the cane is cut, the pattern is revealed at the cross-section.
Artists have proven that glass as a medium for sculpture is virtually without limits. Among hot-working processes, flameworking allows the greatest detail and the smallest scale. Surprisingly though, it can also be used to create sculpture large enough to fill rooms.
Hot-working processes used to form a glass object—glassblowing for example—must be followed by a very gradual cooling period called annealing. See what happens when an object is not properly annealed and learn why it breaks.
Encasing glass decorations and small-scale sculpture within a mass of molten colorless glass to make paperweights began in the 1840s. It continues to be practiced by a limited number of specialized glass artists.
See what really sets glass apart from metal and then begin to understand why humans have invented such odd ways of shaping it while hot: core-forming, fusing, slumping, and—oddest of all—glassblowing.
A technique unique to glass, air twist requires very high quality material for success. When sparkling lead crystal became common in 18th-century England, the air twist technique spread rapidly.
By about AD 20, Roman workers had discovered that a bubble of molten glass could be lowered into a mold and then further inflated to fill the mold. In this way, the full-size vessel, complete with elaborate decoration, was made almost instantly.
This was the common method of making small glass vessels from around 1500 BC until the discovery of glassblowing. Dung, clay, and glass came together in a seemingly odd process that was indispensable for more than a millennium and a half.
This technique was invented by Roman glassworkers. It was indispensable in glasshouses of the Middle Ages and flourished in Venice. Also known as dip molding, it remains popular today.
Discover the history and process of glass blowing with experts at the Corning Museum of Glass.
Arguably the most beautiful medieval glass vessel to survive, this goblet is also original. It is probably the invention of one glassblower who took the secret of its manufacture to his grave. See this extraordinarily elegant process, not rediscovered until the 20th century.
Molten glass can be cast by a method virtually identical to that used for casting metal. Here, molten glass at 2300 degrees Fahrenheit is ladled into a mold made of sand. The process is relatively easy as hot glassworking processes go...but hot!
Don't try this at home! A classic demonstration involving exploding glass: it spectacularly shows both the great strength and vulnerability of glass that has been rapidly cooled from the molten state.