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.
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.
While glass canes can be used alone, for example as stirring rods, usually they are incorporated in vessels or sculpture. An infinite variety of decoration is possible. Here we see two examples that are intended to be viewed from the side.
Here is virtuoso Venetian-style glassblowing "without a net." One mistake and all is lost! Where "making a goblet from parts" allows mistakes to be isolated and destroyed, this process moves relentlessly forward, allowing no retakes.
Popular among glass artists today, as it was in the golden age of Greece and the Roman Empire, this technique softens and shapes glass in a kiln. Various preparatory steps are shown in the making of a contemporary sculpture.
It could have been so simple...but it wasn't! Until recent times (about 1800), permanent enamels had to be fired on glass vessels by an amazingly laborious process, shown here. Today, the process really is as easy as it looks.
Five different methods of using colored glass are demonstrated; some produce a uniformly colored object, others a splotchy or mottled effect. Glass artists today use whatever method best suits their aesthetic choices.
Roman glassworkers, tirelessly creative and inventive, were fond of folding and manipulating inflated glass in a variety of ways for different purposes. Two of their characteristic structures—both functional and beautiful—are demonstrated.
This is another casting technique that—like glassblowing—only works with glass. Whereas glassblowing was invented about 50 BC, pâte de verre is a process invented in France in the 19th century. It allows subtle gradations of color, possible with no other glassworking process.
Beginning in the 1800s, glassworkers used flameworking to make vessels considerably larger than previously possible. Bigger and more sophisticated torches allowed the increase in scale, while retaining the flameworker's ability to create minute details.
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.
This video shows the technique of making a Façon de Venise (a French term meaning "manner, or style, of Venice") 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.
This video shows the technique of making a Nuremburg 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.
This video shows the technique of making a Spanish wine glass, 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.