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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Staying On-line: Coated Glass
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Glass windows are great, but they waste energy. A glass pane provides only slightly more insulation than nothing at all. Even so, builders were using more, and bigger, windows. Then, in 1973, the energy crisis hit. Harvard University chemist Roy Gordon knew that a tin oxide coating would make

The Glass Harmonica
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Performers throughout the 1700's produced sounds by gently rubbing the rims of finely tuned wineglasses with their moistened fingertips. Wineglasses were tuned by adjusting the amount of water in their bowls. After hearing a performance played on musical glasses in England in 1761, Benjamin

About Medieval Glass
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Glass in Ancient Rome In the fourth and fifth centuries AD, the glassmakers of the Roman world were in a class of their own. Glassmaking and glassworking were separate activities. Glassmakers used tank furnaces to melt several tons of raw materials in one operation, and glass workers employed many

The Evolution of the Paperweight
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The earliest paperweights appeared in Europe in the mid-1840s. Venetian glassmaker Pietro Bigaglia created and exhibited the first signed and dated weights at the Vienna Industrial Exposition in 1845. He, like other paperweight makers of the time, revived many ancient glassworking techniques to

Drawings for American Stained Glass
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Drawings for American %%Stained Glass%%, a 2010 exhibition at the Museum’s Rakow Research Library, showcased 19th- and 20th-century designs from studios and artists across the United States. These designs illustrated the great diversity in style and subject matter in modern American stained glass,

Louis Comfort Tiffany Paperweights
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Louis Comfort Tiffany, the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, was born in 1848. At the time of Tiffany’s birth his father owned one of the most prestigious jewelry and silver stores in America. Tiffany grew up around the decorative arts and decided to become a painter in 1866 rather than attend

Lighting the Way: Fresnel Lens
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The most dangerous part of a sailing trip used to be returning to shore. Lighthouses were built to signal the safest route, but often the weak light from their lamps was not visible until too late. The large, thick lens that was supposed to project the light absorbed much of the signal.  Hollowing

Solarized Glass
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Certain types of colorless, transparent glasses, when exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time, develop a pink or pale purplish color. Bottles, insulators, and other objects having their color changed in this way are often called "desert glass," but the scientist prefers the term

Genie in the Bottle: Glass Bulbs & TV Tubes
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In 1879, the brilliant inventor Thomas Edison was on the verge of a breakthrough. He had discovered a slow-burning filament that would glow for hours in the vacuum of a glass globe. But to create the first practical electric light, he needed a glass globe that would not implode when the air was

Beyond Venice: Glass in Venetian Style, 1500-1750
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In Renaissance Europe, the compulsion to copy Venetian glassmaking styles and techniques was no simple fashion fad. The glass was clearly superior in almost every way. The glass was called “cristallo” because it was clear and colorless, a quality the Venetians achieved as early as 1440 by making it

Czech Glass vs. Bohemian Glass
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Do you know the difference between the Czech Republic and Bohemia? The short answer is that there is practically none. Both names refer to nearly the same region, and they are used for historical reasons. From the Middle Ages to 1918, Bohemia was the name of what is today the major part of the

Meet the Artist: April Surgent
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April Surgent rethinks engraving and cameo techniques, reaching back to antiquity to create works that look painterly, photographic, and contemporary. Her images come to light through precise cutting and the grinding away of fused glass layers, usually milky white on the top with darker strata

A Pressing Solution: Shaped Glass
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Glass manufacturers had spent centuries learning how to make flat glass. Now, they wanted to bend it into complex shapes—without marring its surface. Anything that touched the surface of the hot glass could leave a mark. The first curved windows were made by slumping. A glass sheet was placed in a

Founders of American Studio Glass: Dominick Labino
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At the time that [studio glassworking] began, not one of us involved was aware of the speed with which it would spread. Not only nationally, but internationally. — Dominick Labino, undated manuscript Dominick Labino’s contributions to 20th-century glassmaking were wide-ranging and innovative.

One Step Closer: The Iron Glassblower
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A little more than 2,000 years ago, a Roman glassworker did something that dramatically changed the course of history. He blew a puff of air through a hollow %%rod%% into a gob of hot glass. The gob inflated into a bubble. At that moment, glassblowing was born. Glassblowing provided a way to make

Perfume Bottles: From Design Table to Dressing Table
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Since ancient times, perfume bottles have served to contain the most subtle of mysteries: delightful, seductive scents. Before glassblowing, ancient Egyptian artisans fashioned exquisite containers from alabaster, metals, precious stones, and core-formed glass to hold their highly valued perfumes.

Pietro Bigaglia
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One of the most noteworthy contributors to the development of the first paperweight was the 19th century Venetian glassmaker Pietro Bigaglia. Bigaglia’s family owned glassmaking shops in Venice as early as 1674. He made mirrors as well as lamps and window panes decorated with filigree and

Jobs in a 19th-Century Glass Factory
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In a typical glass factory in earlier times, most workers would work as unskilled laborers. An unskilled laborer was usually called "boy," a term which did not refer to the age of the individual. Although girls were known to perform other work, they often worked as inspectors and packers

Magnificent House Altar from 1500s Restored
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On August 2, 2007, a beautiful, fully restored 16th-century German house altar (59.3.39) was put on display for the first time since its acquisition by The Corning Museum of Glass in 1959. The altar is 49.6 cm tall, and contains seven reverse-painted glass panels. These depict scenes of the

On a Pool of Tin: Float Glass
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The auto and building industries boomed after World War II. Plate glass was in extremely short supply. Twin-grinding—used all over the world to make the glass—was too costly and too slow to keep up with the demand. Could high-quality glass be made without grinding and polishing? Alastair Pilkington

The Window Machines: Sheet & Plate Glass
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The mighty glowing columns that stand like pillars in a ghostly cathedral...     -Anonymous At the beginning of the 20th century, there was no way to mass-produce flat glass. Although glass cylinders could be drawn by machine, they had to be opened and flattened by hand. What was needed was a way

19th Century French Paperweight Makers
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Compagnie des Cristalleries de Saint-Louis Compagnie des Cristalleries de Saint-Louis, which is named after the sainted King Louis IX, was founded in Lorraine, France in 1767 and still exists today. Along with Baccarat, it nearly monopolized the French luxury glass industry for many years. In late

A Trip Up a Goat Path Unearths Blaschka-Era Lampworking Table
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Who would have thought that a trip up a goat path would lead to the Museum’s acquisition of a 19th-century lampworking table that was part of the 2007 Botanical Wonders exhibition? In October 2006, Steve Gibbs, the Museum’s manager of events marketing, embarked on a mission to find a lampworking

Thérèse Lahaie: Rhythms in Glass
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Rarely does a visitor catch sight of Thérèse Lahaie’s Silver Gray Nocturne Triptych (2005.4.204) in the Museum’s Ben W. Heineman Sr. Family Contemporary Glass Gallery and not walk over or lean in to get a closer look. Something in, or behind, the panels of glass is rising and falling

Portland Vase Iconography
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The Portland Vase is the best-known ancient Roman cameo glass vessel. It is in the collection of the British Museum in London. For some pieces of art, the meaning of a figural scheme is clear; in others, the interpretation takes years to decipher; and in the %%case%% of the Portland Vase, scholars

Lino Tagliapietra
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It was a spring day in Venice shortly before the end of World War II. The air was filled with a sense of imminent freedom and new possibilities. A young Lino Tagliapietra was playing with a paper ball on the island of Murano, Venice’s glassmaking center since medieval times. He glanced inside a

Reflections on Glass: Telescope Mirrors
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I contrived heretofore, a perspective by Reflexion.       —Sir Isaac Newton, c. 1668 The refracting telescope gave astronomers their first real glimpse of the heavens. Then, it began to frustrate them. At higher magnifications, the instrument’s glass lenses produced distorted images. Pioneering

The Hale Reflecting Telescope at Palomar
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Lenses are used in refracting telescopes. Mirrors are used in reflecting telescopes. The mirrors are ground and polished so that a precise concave surface remains to be coated with a shiny, reflective finish. Mirrors concentrate light and focus all colors of the spectrum in an image. No lens can

Master of Studio Glass: František Vízner
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In 1979, the Museum’s landmark exhibition, New Glass: A Worldwide Survey, introduced to the American public the work of a Czechoslovak glassmaker, František Vízner. Nearly 30 years later, the Museum presented Vizner once again at Corning as a studio glass master. Masters of %%Studio Glass%%:

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

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