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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Glass Harmonica (Family App)
Video

Benjamin Franklin invented this strange musical instrument. It was popular in the late 18th century. Sounds were made by running moistened fingers along the rims of the glasses. Some people were afraid that this strange music would drive them crazy.

Glass Table and Boat- Family
Video

Glass furniture like this table was very popular in India. European glassmakers maintained showrooms that were filled with chandeliers, tables, and chairs for sale to kings and princes.

Cage Cup- Family
Video

Cage cups were made by Roman glasscutters in the fourth century AD. The entire vessel was cut from a thick-walled glass hemisphere. The metal attachments show that the object was a hanging lamp. Imagine the shadows the "cage" would have cast as the lamplight flickered.

Cage Cup Technique- Family
Video

Cage cups were made by Roman glasscutters in the fourth century AD. The entire vessel was cut from a thick-walled glass hemisphere. The metal attachments show that the object was a hanging lamp. Imagine the shadows the "cage" would have cast as the lamplight flickered.

Blaschka Case- Family
Video

During their long careers, Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka made many thousands of models of small animals and plants. They sold these all over the world, including to Harvard University.

The Corning Ewer- Family
Video

This is one of the finest pieces of cut glass in the entire museum! The eggshell-thin colorless glass was covered with a green overlay. After cooling, the green was partly carved away to create the decoration.

Tiffany Landscape Window- Family
Video

This window, decorated with hollyhocks, trumpet vines and wisteria, came from a mansion overlooking the Hudson River.

Mace/Kirkpatrick Large Fruits- Family
Video

Learn more about Still Life with Plum  by American artists Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick.

LaMonte Evening Dress- Family
Video

Learn more about Evening Dress with Shawl  by American artist Karen LaMonte. This five-part cast-glass sculpture is hollow, but suggests a body inside the dress.

Side Arm Press (Family App)
Video

The mass production of glass began in the 1820s, when the side-arm press was introduced. Using a press and a mold, two men could make about 100 glasses in an hour. Gift of Debra Ortello in loving memory of her husband, Vincent Ortello.

Trick Goblet (Family App)
Video

When you try to fill this glass with liquid, some of the tubes and bulbs remain empty. If you try to drink from the glass, the air in the tubes makes the liquid gush out when you least expect it.

Hilton Innerland (Family App)
Video

Scottish artist Eric Hilton designed Innerland and master engravers at Steuben Glass translated Hilton's dream into tangible form. Wherever you look, you will find a different inner land.

Musler Cityscape (Family App)
Video

Artist Jay Musler took a hemisphere of industrially produced Pyrex, cut the rim in the form of an urban skyline (think of the skyscrapers of Manhattan), sandblasted it, and airbrushed it with oil paint.

Chihuly Fern Green Tower- Family
Video

Listen as curators Tina Oldknow and David Whitehouse describe Fern Green Tower by American artist Dale Chihuly. Northwest native Chihuly calls glass "the most magical of materials." He is probably the best-known artist working in blown glass today, and his sculptures and chandeliers are

Toso Chess Set- Family Technique
Video

The pieces in Gianni Toso's Chess Set, made in about 1981, are in the form of Jewish and Roman Catholic worshippers. The kings are a rabbi and a bishop. The tiny details of the figures were made by softening glass in a flame and molding it into the desired shapes.

Libenský Installation- Family Technique
Video

Listen as glass artist William Gudenrath describes the techniques used to create Meteor, Flower, Bird by Czech artists Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová. Libenský and Brychtová convey three messages with this sculpture: Meteor, on the left, represents Corning as an international center for

Contemporary Chairs- Family
Video

Some of this furniture was designed to be used, while other pieces are purely decorative. Ghost Chair, on the left, is sturdy enough for use; likewise, Danny Lane's Etruscan Chair on the far right was also designed for sitting.

Steuben Cascade Wall- Family
Video

Cascade Wall was designed by George Thompson and made in Corning by Steuben Glass for its New York City showroom. When it was installed in the showroom in 1959, it had a reflecting pool at the bottom. Gift of Steuben Glass, Inc.

Tagliapietra Endeavor- Family Technique
Video

Listen as glass artist William Gudenrath describes the techniques Italian artist Lino Tagliapietra, one of the greatest living glass artists, used to create Endeavor. These 18 boats evoke the gondolas of Tagliapietra's native Venice. Each boat was blown and then cold worked to create the

Light Bulb Tester (Family App)
Video

The single light bulb is a replica of the first light bulb blown in Corning, N.Y., for inventor Thomas Alva Edison. The large object is a light bulb tester. Before purchasing light bulbs in a store, you would use the tester to see if your light bulb worked. 

English Folding Screen- Family
Video

This screen, made in London, England, is decorated with birds, frogs, and fish—even a spider and a butterfly. Sixteen birds are shown; 13 are easy to spot, but three are more difficult. How many can you find? Clara S. Peck Endowment.

Richard Wistar Bottle- Family
Video

The first successful glassmaker in America was Caspar Wistar who began a factory in New Jersey. Before his factory, all glass was imported from England and Europe. This bottle is one of three that are known to come from his factory.

Whimsies- Family
Video

Whimsies are what modern collectors call pieces that were made by individual glassmakers for fun or for show. Glassmakers would make these after their regular work shifts.

Bertil Vallien, Unknown Destination II- Family
Video

Listen as curator Tina Oldknow describes Unknown Destination II by Swedish artist Bertil Vallien. Vallien created a series of boats that remind us of journeys. He filled the boats with objects that reference the past and time.

Tagliapietra Endeavor- Family
Video

Listen as curator Tina Oldknow describes Endeavor by Italian artist Lino Tagliapietra, one of the greatest living glass artists. These 18 boats evoke the gondolas of his native Venice. Each boat was blown and then cold worked to create the different surface textures.

Bedside Lamp (Family App)
Video

These bedside lamps, made in New England in the 1820s or 1830s, burned whale oil. This was readily available and it gave a good light. Whale oil remained popular until about 1860, when kerosene became available. Gift of Preston Bassett.

Gallé Dragonfly Coupe- Family
Video

Emile Gallé was an artist, a poet, and a horticulturalist. He designed remarkable glass, ceramics, and furniture. The huge dragonfly that adorns this chalice-like coupe reflects Gallé's profound love of nature. Gift in part of Benedict Silverman, in memory of Gerry Lou Silverman.

Reynolds Family Matter- Family
Video

Listen as curator Tina Oldknow describes the object Family Matter by American artist Jill Reynolds.

American Glass- Family
Video

This display of glass produced in America in the 18th and 19th centuries includes useful objects made in the 1700s, fancy art glass of the late 19th century, and glass for windows, lighting devices, and storage jars.

Ruffner Shirts, Cherries, and Snowflakes, of Course- Family
Video

Learn more about Shirts, Cherries, and Snowflakes, of Course  by American artist Ginny Ruffner.

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