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 Glass Question at our Rakow Research Library.

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Weathered Archaeological Glass
Article

Glass is found at archaeological excavations in a variety of conditions. The glass condition can range from pristine, where no deterioration is visible, to so heavily degraded that practically all the glass has been transformed into corrosion products. The deterioration of the glass surface is

Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus), Historia naturalis, about A.D. 77
Article

First printed edition published by Johannes de Spira, Venice, 1469 A chief idea in ancient thought and in Renaissance Humanism was the centrality of the individual in the world. Accordingly, the natural world was considered to be less a manifestation of a divine creator and more a stage for the

Raw Materials of Glass
Video

See and understand the magical process of making glass from simple materials, by using great heat. Until the most recent times, glassmaking was a closely guarded secret passed on within workshops or even families from one generation to the next, often over hundreds of years.

Toso Chess Set
Video

Listen as curator Tina Oldknow describes Chess Set, created by Italian glass artist Gianni Toso. In this whimsical, yet functional, chess set, a Jewish rabbi and a Roman Catholic bishop (the two kings) join a group of holy men and women holding Judeo-Christian symbols of faith, including crosses,

2300° with Davide Salvadore and Afrobeta
Video

"I tried to work wood, be a bartender... but in the end, I came back to the furnace. Every time," says Guest Artist Davide Salvadore who took over the Amphitheater Hot Shop for this 2300° demo. Music by Afrobeta. This duo with a cool, underground sound has what has been described as "

2300° with Pauline Deltour and The Jeff Love Band
Video

Guest Artist Pauline Deltour on her first experience working with glass: "I definitely want to do more things with glass. It's very alive, very unperfect, but that's what makes the beauty of it." Hear more from Deltour and music from The Jeff Love Band at December 2016's

Toots Zynsky | Behind the Glass Lecture
Video

Toots Zynsky is known for her distinctive filet de verre (glass thread) vessels, which are unique explorations of color and form. Their exceptional designs are achieved through an interweaving of painting and sculpture. In her lecture, Zynsky shares her creative process and sources for inspiration,

The Story of Rudolf and Leopold Blaschka
Video

The Botanical Wonders exhibition celebrated the singular triumph of glassmakers Leopold Blaschka (1822-1895) and his son Rudolf (1857-1939) and offered close-ups of the people and the craft process behind the glass flowers. Video narrated by David Whitehouse.

Christa Westbrook Guest Artist Demonstration
Video

Watch Christa Westbrook create a large colorful vessel in this Guest Artist demo. See the final piece starting at 1:27:55. The Guest Artist Series features world-class visiting artists at work in the Amphitheater Hot Shop. These special, extended demonstrations provide a fascinating peek at the

Bandhu Dunham Live-Streamed Studio Demonstration
Video

Watch as Bandhu Dunham demonstrates techniques for creating kinetic glass sculptures that utilize natural forces such as gravity, heat, and pressure to animate whimsical moving machines. See the final pieces starting at 1:04:41. Bandhu Dunham is the author of the definitive glass text, Contemporary

Michael Schunke & Josie Gluck Live-Streamed Studio Demonstration (July 25, 2018)
Video

Watch as Michael Schunke and Josie Gluck demonstrate goblet-making along with color chemistry and melting practice. See the final object starting at 1:01:32. Take a look into a class at The Studio and watch as internationally renowned faculty demonstrate for their classes ranging from furnace

Solarized Glass
Article

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

Antonio Neri: Alchemist, Glassmaker, Priest
Article

One of the most interesting figures in the history of glass lived four hundred years ago in Florence, Italy. He was an alchemist, a glassmaker and a Catholic priest. His name was Antonio Neri and he worked for a prince from the Medici royal family. 1  Neri is famously known as the author of the

The Precise Moment: Tempered Glass
Article

Glass breaks. But if it’s strengthened by thermal tempering, it breaks less easily and more safely. By 1920, architects and European car designers wanted more and more tempered glass—and in large sheets. Glassmakers could successfully temper only one sheet in ten. There’s a trick to tempering: heat

Prince Rupert's Drop
Video

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.

Making Ideas: Experiments in Design at GlassLab
Article

Making Ideas: Experiments in Design at GlassLab showcases the Museum’s signature design program, GlassLab, in which designers are invited to work with hot glass. The exhibition features over 150 design prototypes by nearly 50 international designers. Over the last decade, the field of design has

Red/Amber Sliced Descending Form (557)
Audio

557 Harvey K. Littleton (American, b. 1922) United States, Spruce Pine, North Carolina 1984 Cased and hot-worked glass, cut H: 37.2 cm, W: 44 cm, D: 11.3 cm (2007.4.168) Harvey Littleton, who founded the American Studio Glass movement with the glass research scientist Dominick Labino, was born and

A Pressing Solution: Shaped Glass
Article

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

Roman Mold-Blown Glass
Video

Watch glassmakers recreate ancient Roman glass objects by mold-blowing. This video was filmed in 2014 at the Roman-style wood-fired furnace in Villa Borg, Germany, which was created especially for researching Roman glassworking techniques.

Tiffany Treasures (Podcast)
Audio

Learn more about Louis Comfort Tiffany and his work. In this podcast, Bill Gudenrath, the Museum's resident adviser to The Studio and a glass historian, interviews curator of American glass, Jane Shadel Spillman, and librarian at the Museum's Rakow Research Library, Diane Dolbashian. Both

McElheny Untitled (White)
Video

Listen as curator Tina Oldknow, describes the object "Untitled (White)" by American artist Josiah McElhany. Josiah McElheny is an accomplished glassblower who creates installations inspired by art or glass history, often using a specific historical or literary anecdote as a point of

Harvey K. Littleton and the American Studio Glass Movement
Article

Harvey Littleton is internationally acclaimed and recognized for his tireless work in founding and promoting the American Studio Glass movement. The movement was “born” in 1962, during two seminal glassblowing workshops at The Toledo Museum of Art. The workshops were led by Littleton, a Cranbrook

From a Broken Flask: Laminated Safety Glass
Article

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

A Conversation Between Liza Lou, Contemporary Sculptor and Installation Artist and Tina Oldknow, Curator of Modern Glass
Article

Tina Oldknow: I thought we would begin our conversation by discussing one sculpture in particular: Continuous Mile. How did the idea for this work come about? Liza Lou: Continuous Mile is a meditation on process. It’s a project that is spread across seven different townships in KwaZulu-Natal. The

The American Studio Glass Movement
Article

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

The Long Road to Success: Fusion Draw Glass
Article

Both companies were chasing the same thing: the enormous market for flat glass. While Pilkington was working to develop flat glass, Corning Glass Works was developing a process of its own. Fusion draw produced a continuous sheet of exceptionally thin, pristine glass, but it was too slow to compete.

Reflections on Glass: Telescope Mirrors
Article

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

Frederick Carder: A Biography for Young Audiences
Article

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

What is Glass?
Article

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 %

Tools of the Glassmaker
Article

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 A.D. Incredibly, a Roman-period worker could

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