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.
Pictured below are the basic tools used by glassblowers working "at the furnace" (as opposed to those working "at the lamp"- "flameworking" or "lampworking"). They are pretty much unchanged since the first century AD. Incredibly, a Roman-period worker could
Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond d’Alembert published their much acclaimed Encyclopédie in Paris from 1751 to 1765. To illustrate their entries, they commissioned several hundred engraved images depicting artistic crafts and common trades in preindustrial France. Since pictorial representations of
This 6 minute version of a Chevron bead demonstration, narrated by William Gudenrath, shows the various stages of creating a Chevron bead, from the hot, blow...
The basic components of early glasses were soda, lime, and silica. In the Mediterranean region and Western Asia, these three components were usually introduced in the form of two ingredients: either natron (soda) and sand containing shell fragments (silica and lime), or ash derived from halophytic
Glassworkers made ring-shaped decanters as early as the Roman period. Due to their novel shape, much like buoys, the personal flotation devices carried on ships, decanters in the early 20th century were called "lifebuoy decanters." Watch as William Gudenrath demonstrates the technique.
Glass makers throughout history have gone to great lengths to eliminate all bubbles from glass. But here, we see bubbles purposefully put into the glass for their decorative effect. In this paperweight, the bubbles surround another gather of glass with twisted canes of colored glass. Watch as
In the 1930s, the Pairpoint Glass Corporation introduced a bold new design called "twist glass," consisting of swirled stripes of ruby or deep blue glass and clear crystal. The complicated technique, already used in Sweden, required many stages including cold working. Watch as William
In the second half of the 19th century, many glass firms used experimental techniques to create decorative art glass. In 1878, the Mt. Washington glass company introduced Sicilian glass. As part of their marketing, the company claimed to have used lava, that is, molten rock spewed out by volcanoes,
Watch as William Gudenrath demonstrates the Reticello technique. Reticello (Italian, "glass with a small network"), is a type of blown glass made with canes organized in a crisscross pattern to form a fine net, which may contain tiny air traps.
Glass that gradually shades from one color to another has ingredients such as uranium and gold, which are sensitive to heat. When part of the object is reheated, it "strikes" or changes color. Heat-sensitive glass became very popular in the late 19th century. Many companies used heat
This video shows the technique of making a St. Augustin (Rouen) Goblet, an object in the exhibition Beyond Venice: Glass in Venetian Style 1500--1750, which was on view at The Corning Museum of Glass from May 20, 2004, to January 2, 2005.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.