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.
As if glassblowing wasn't fast enough—it takes under three minutes to make a Roman bottle—cracking-off made the process even faster. This technique was well known by AD 20 or so, and cut the manufacturing time of simple tumblers in half.
Flameworking (sometimes called "lampworking") is the process of directing a flame onto a piece of glass in order to create form or decoration. Beads were likely among the first glass objects to be made by flameworking.
Chunks of glass are placed in a mold, then heated in a kiln until the glass softens and flows downward to gradually fill the mold. Popular with contemporary artists, this method avoids the need for a giant melting furnace filled with molten glass.
Cutting thin sheet glass is almost as easy as it looks in this video clip...but not quite! Curves really are much trickier than straight lines. The process shown would have been completely familiar to medieval window glaziers.
Once murrine canes are cut into thin slices, they can be fused and slumped, flameworked, or blown. Here, murrine canes are used in demonstrations of a Roman period process and a Renaissance Venetian process.
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!
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.