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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.

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With a Burst of Energy: Glass That Amplifies Light
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It was an idea that might have remained buried in scientific journals. Instead, it led to a device that gave modern telecommunications a much-needed boost. In the 1960s, Elias Snitzer, a physicist at American Optical, added rare earth elements to glass. These elements can absorb light energy—and,

Getting the Whole Picture: Bundled Glass Fibers
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Glass rods could transmit light, but could they transmit an image? A professor at a French agricultural college found himself faced with that question in the 1890s while he was tinkering with an early version of television. Henri C. Saint-Rene needed to find a way to transmit an image onto his

On a Thread of Glass: Optical Fibers for Communication
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I have heard a ray of the sun laugh and cough and sing!    -Alexander Graham Bell It was a bright idea: use sunlight to transmit the human voice. In 1880, American innovator Alexander Graham Bell tried it, using a thin, flexible mirror to reflect a light beam onto a distant receiver. His voice

From a Broken Flask: Laminated Safety Glass
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Edouard Benedictus, a set and costume designer for a French theater, wanted to make glass safer. He was disturbed by reports of people being disfigured by broken windshield glass during automobile accidents. How could windshields be made less dangerous? He recalled a curious incident that had

The Fabulous Monster: Owens Bottle Machine
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The most significant advance in glass production in over 2,000 years...     -American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 1983 Michael Owens, a self-taught American inventor, propelled the glass industry into the mechanical age. In 1903, he unveiled the world’s first completely automatic glass-forming

The Origins of Glassmaking
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Little is known about the first attempts to make glass. However, it is generally believed that glassmaking was discovered 4,000 years ago, or more, in Mesopotamia. The Roman historian Pliny attributed the origin of glassmaking to Phoenician sailors. He recounted how they landed on a beach near

Masters of Studio Glass: Jiří Harcuba
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Heritage means to select the most valuable thing from history and hand it over to the next generation... Prehistorical rock engravings are closer to our contemporary artistic views than classical art. Other manifestations of the primary art of Australia, Africa, and Oceania as well as folk art

Continuous Perfection: Optical-Quality Glass
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They make glass. By day and night, the fires burn on … and bid the sand let in the light.     -Carl Sandburg, In Reckless Ecstasy, 1904. To see the unseeable: the quest is unending. But lenses and prisms are only as good as their glass. Optical-quality glass must be flawless. Even tiny flecks,

The American Studio Glass Movement
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The Beginning of the Studio Movement During the 1950s, studio ceramics and other craft media in the U.S. began to gain in popularity and importance, and American artists interested in glass looked for new paths outside industry. The catalyst for the development of studio glass in the United States

Robert Willson
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Robert Willson (1912–2000) was a sculptor, “half Texan and half Choctaw Indian,” as he liked to describe himself. A maverick in art and in life, he worked outside the mainstream. His work explores themes inspired by ancient mythologies, pre-Columbian and other native American art, and the American

A Brief History of Islamic Glassmaking
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The prophet Muhammad proclaimed the new religion of Islam in 622. Following his death ten years later, Arab armies conquered much of what is now Egypt, the Near East, and Iran. Here the Moslems found flourishing glass industries, which continued to produce large quantities of objects for daily use.

Frederick Carder: A Biography for Young Audiences
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Frederick Carder was born in England on September 18, 1863. Fred, as people called him, was fascinated with his family’s pottery factory. At the age of 14, he insisted on quitting school so he could work there. His father was very unhappy about this, so he made Fred work from six in the morning

The Glass Flowers
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Before the development of high-speed moving image media, or fiberglass, naturalists and educators faced a quandary: it was often impossible to demonstrate exactly what an invertebrate looked like without a live specimen, because the spine collapses and color leaches out of one preserved in alcohol.

Tools of the Glassmaker
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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

Pre-Columbian Use of Obsidian
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The lack of any advanced metallurgy among the Aztecs and Mayas has long been a mystery to students of pre-Colombian civilizations. Why, historians ask, were the great Mexican empires stuck in the %%Stone%% Age? The Spanish crushed the Aztec empire with amazing ease, and the Americans'

Does Glass Flow?
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(No, It Doesn't Flow—read on for details) Early one spring morning in 1946, Clarence Hoke was holding forth in his chemistry class at West Side High School in Newark, New Jersey. "Glass is actually a liquid." the North Carolina native told us in his soft Southern tones. "You can

Finding the Right Recipe: Borosilicate Glass
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Otto Schott, the pioneering German glass chemist, made a glass that could reliably do something that didn’t seem possible: endure sudden, uneven temperature shifts without shattering. The key, Schott discovered in 1882, was to have a critical amount of the element boron in the glass recipe. Schott

Birth of a New Industry: Fiberglass
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"If necessity is the mother of invention, then for the glass fiber industry, adversity is the father."     -William Boeschenstein, Owens-Corning Fiberglas, 1995 The world’s largest bottle plant stood empty. Prohibition and the Depression had crushed the demand for bottles. American bottle

What is Glass?
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Glass is a rigid material formed by heating a mixture of dry materials to a viscous state, then cooling the ingredients fast enough to prevent a regular crystalline structure. As the glass cools, the atoms become locked in a disordered state like a liquid before they can form into the perfect %

Toots Zynsky
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When I hear music, it translates into color.—Toots Zynsky Toots Zynsky’s distinctive heat-formed  filet de verre  (glass thread) vessels enjoy a widespread popularity and deserved acclaim for their often extraordinary and always unique explorations in color. Defying categorization, her pieces

The Glass Giant
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For the American astronomer George Ellery Hale, bigger was always better. In 1897, at the age of 29, he had become director of Chicago’s new Yerkes Observatory, whose 40-inch refracting telescope remains the largest instrument of its kind in the world.  The lenses of refractors collected and

Blaschkas’ Glass Models of Invertebrate Animals (1863–1890)
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The story of the Blaschkas begins in the small town of Böhmisch Aicha (now Cˇesky´ Dub in the Czech Republic), where Leopold’s father continued the family tradition of flameworking. When Leopold was a student, his favorite  subjects were natural history and painting, and a visiting artist urged him

Cross-Cultural Influences in Glassmaking in the 18th and 19th Centuries
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East Influences West In Western Europe, the influence of East and South Asian products imported by the English, Dutch, and French East India Companies in the 18th and 19th centuries had a significant impact on style and art. European artists, fascinated by Oriental designs, architecture, and

Tiffany Treasures: Favrile Glass from Special Collections
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The innovations and artistry of Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848 – 1933) were explored in the winter of 2010 in two new Museum exhibitions. Tiffany Treasures: %%Favrile%% Glass from Special Collections (November 1, 2009 – October 31, 2010), was shown on the Museum’s West Bridge. It featured nearly 60 of

Tom Patti: Investigations into a Complicated Universe
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Artist Tom Patti was drawn to glass in the 1960s, while designing houses of inflatable plastic for the developing world. “I wanted to work with materials that I could open up and look at,” he says. Sheet glass, readily available and affordable, attracted him as a means to expand his vocabulary of

Josh Simpson's 100-Pound Megaplanet
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In April 2005, The Corning Museum of Glass commissioned the artist Josh Simpson to create the world's first 100-pound glass paperweight, which will be part of Simpson's series of solid glass spheres he calls "planets" or " Megaplanets." It will be the 1,000th

Historical Glassmaking Techniques
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See glass scholar and artist William Gudenrath demonstrate historical glassmaking techniques. Façon de Venise Goblet Although in the 16th century the maximum penalty for a glassblower leaving Murano, the “glass island” of Venice, to work elsewhere was death, many did. The Low Countries became home

Jaroslava Brychtová and Stanislav Libenský
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In 1950, Jaroslava Brychtová joined the design studio of the glassworks at Železný Brod, directing the architectural glass department. Working with her father, the sculptor Jaroslav Brychta, she began to experiment with casting, molding, and melting glass during the 1940s. In 1954, Stanislav

Countless Variations: Lens Combinations
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The world began to realize that so far it had only toyed with glass. Now a brand new material was born.     -Walter Kioulehn, Odyssey of the 41 Glassmakers, 1959 By the mid-1800s, there were still only two kinds of optical glass: soda-lime crown glass and lead-containing flint glass. Opticians

“Flexible” Roman Glass?
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There are three sources that concern the story of the “flexible” glass of first century Rome: Pliny’s Natural History, Petronius’ Satyricon, and Dio Cassius’ Roman History. Petronius (d. 63 A.D.) published the story before Pliny, who completed his encyclopedia in 78 A.D. Dio Cassius’ story is much

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