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.
Listen as glass artist William Gudenrath describes how this glass harmonica was made. Benjamin Franklin invented this strange musical instrument. It was popular in the late 18th century. Sounds were made by running moistened fingers along the rims of the glasses. Some people were afraid that this
The European glass cases in the Museum tell the story of glass from the Renaissance in the 15th century to 1900. The Venetians were the master glassworkers of the Renaissance. Later, different parts of Europe produced their own distinctive styles.
Listen as glass artist William Gudenrath describes the techniques used to make this bird-shaped vessel. This was an ancient Roman form of packaging. It was filled with perfume, then the tail was sealed by heating it in a flame. To extract the perfume, the user broke off the tip of the tail.
This particular type of pitcher is modeled after an ancient civilization in Italy called the Etruscans. It's called a becco di oca, which means "goose beak" in Italian.
This was an ancient Roman form of packaging. It was filled with perfume, then the tail was sealed by heating it in a flame. To extract the perfume, the user broke off the tip of the tail.
The Venetians were clever glassmakers. They could make bowls, goblets, and decorative objects such as these citrus fruits, which were meant to be suspended as ornaments.
Beadwork like this was popular in 17th-century England. A wire frame was formed and decorated with thousands of seed beads.
One traditional way of making flat glass was to open a bubble of molten glass as if to make a bowl. Using centrifugal force, the glassblower would spin the heated bowl and it would open into a flat disk.
The mass production of glass began in the 1820s, when the side-arm press was introduced. Using a press and a mold, two men could make about 100 glasses in an hour. Gift of Debra Ortello in loving memory of her husband, Vincent Ortello.
When you try to fill this glass with liquid, some of the tubes and bulbs remain empty. If you try to drink from the glass, the air in the tubes makes the liquid gush out when you least expect it.
Scottish artist Eric Hilton designed Innerland and master engravers at Steuben Glass translated Hilton's dream into tangible form. Wherever you look, you will find a different inner land.
Artist Jay Musler took a hemisphere of industrially produced Pyrex, cut the rim in the form of an urban skyline (think of the skyscrapers of Manhattan), sandblasted it, and airbrushed it with oil paint.
The single light bulb is a replica of the first light bulb blown in Corning, NY, for inventor Thomas Alva Edison. The large object is a light bulb tester. Before purchasing light bulbs in a store, you would use the tester to see if your light bulb worked.
These bedside lamps, made in New England in the 1820s or 1830s, burned whale oil. This was readily available and it gave a good light. Whale oil remained popular until about 1860, when kerosene became available. Gift of Preston Bassett.
This is a medieval mystery. No one is certain where or when this cut glass beaker was made. It is named for St. Hedwig of Silesia (modern Poland). Fewer than 20 of these beakers are known to exist.
Benjamin Franklin invented this strange musical instrument. It was popular in the late 18th century. Sounds were made by running moistened fingers along the rims of the glasses. Some people were afraid that this strange music would drive them crazy.
One traditional way of making flat window glass was to start with a large cylinder like this one, cut off the ends, cut it lengthwise, and heat it in a kiln until it flattened. Gift of JE Springer.
Anthem of Joy was created by the Czech designer Věra Liškova. It was made by softening, inflating, and manipulating tubes of borosilicate glass (like Pyrex) over a torch. The individual parts were assembled by fusing. Gift of Art Centrum.
Much like today, sports fans throughout history have enjoyed drinking from cups decorated with pictures of their heroes. This cup is decorated with pictures of famous gladiators.
Listen as glass artist William Gudenrath describes the technique used to make this cup with gladiators on it. Much like today, sports fans enjoyed drinking from cups decorated with pictures of their heroes. This cup is decorated with pictures of famous gladiators.
Listen as glass artist William Gudenrath describes the technique used to make this mechanical glass theater. This miniature theater shows the Wedding at Cana. Look closely and you can see that it is made of shells, rock crystal, fabric, and pieces of glass. Some of the figures are attached to
This miniature theater shows the Wedding at Cana. Look closely and you can see that it is made of shells, rock crystal, fabric, and pieces of glass. Some of the figures are attached to levers that allowed them to be moved.
This small masterpiece is a 3500-year-old portrait of an Egyptian king. Under certain conditions, glass "weathers" (deteriorates). When it was new, the head was deep blue. Centuries of burial have altered the surface to a stone-like tan color.
This display of glass produced in America in the 18th and 19th centuries includes useful objects made in the 1700s, fancy art glass of the late 19th century, and glass for windows, lighting devices, and storage jars.
The pieces in Gianni Toso's Chess Set, made in about 1981, are in the form of Jewish and Roman Catholic worshippers. The kings are a rabbi and a bishop. The tiny details of the figures were made by softening glass in a flame and molding it into the desired shapes.
This screen, made in London, England, is decorated with birds, frogs, and fish—even a spider and a butterfly. Sixteen birds are shown; 13 are easy to spot, but three are more difficult. How many can you find? Clara S. Peck Endowment.
In the cutting room, a steam-powered shaft drove belts that turned the metal or stone cutting wheels. A glasscutter holds the object against the rotating wheel, which is fed with an abrasive slurry.
Listen as curator Tina Oldknow, describes "Endeavor" by Italian artist Lino Tagliapietra, one of the greatest living glass artists. These 18 boats evoke the gondolas of his native Venice. Each boat was blown and then cold worked to create the different surface textures.
Traditional glass engravers use copper wheels mounted on a lathe. The wheels come in many shapes and sizes. An abrasive slurry drips onto the wheel as the engraver works on the design.
Emile Gallé was an artist of genius, a poet, and a horticulturalist. He designed remarkable glass, ceramics, and furniture. The huge dragonfly that adorns this chalice-like coupe reflects Gallé's profound love of nature. Gift in part of Benedict Silverman, in memory of Gerry Lou Silverman.