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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The History of Science and Technology in the Rakow Library
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The scientific resources housed in the Rakow Library chronicle the mutual history of glass and science. They reveal how glass was both a subject and a tool of scientific study. They also highlight the different channels of scientific communication, beginning with the Medieval manuscript of the

Flavius Josephus’ books on Jewish history printed by Johann Schüssler in Augsburg, 1470
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One of the most reliable sources of ancient Jewish history is Flavius Josephus (about 37–97 A.D.), a native of Jerusalem and a learned statesman who became a favorite of Roman emperors. His two chief works, De bello Judaico (The Jewish war) and De antiquitate Judaica (Jewish antiquities), are bound

The Cadmiologia of Johann Gottlob Lehmann: A Sourcebook for the History of Preindustrial Glass Furnaces in Central Europe
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Glass furnaces are built to last. Self-destruction, however, seems to be one of their regrettable characteristics. The structure is consumed by high temperatures that no material can withstand indefinitely. Although the life spans of furnaces may have varied considerably, a report of 1649 suggests

Bees and Butterflies: Two Drawings by Harry Clarke
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In March 1996, the Rakow Library of The Corning Museum of Glass acquired two important drawings by the early 20th-century Irish stained glass artist Harry Clarke 1 (1889–1931). One of these drawings, created in 1914, is a detailed design for Clarke's "St. Gobnet" window in the Honan

Lorenzo Magalotti, Saggi di naturali esperienze, 1667
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The Saggi di naturali esperienze / fatte nell’Accademia del cimento sotto la protezione del serenissimo principe Leopoldo di Toscana e descritte del segretario di essa Accademia is a landmark publication in the history of experimental science. It describes experiments conducted by members of the

Udagawa Yoan and William Henry, Seimi Kaiso: A Japanese chemistry text in seven volumes, published in Edo (Tokyo), 1837
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Seimi Kaiso plays an important role in the remarkable story of Western scientific influences in Japan. When this work first appeared in 1837, Japan had been almost completely isolated from the larger world for two centuries. The Japanese were not allowed to travel abroad, and only the Chinese and

Bartholomaeus Anglicus, De Proprietatibus Rerum
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The encyclopedia titled De Proprietatibus Rerum (On the properties of things) was one of the most influential and widely published pedagogical works of the late medieval period. Originally written in Latin in the mid-13th century, it contained 19 books in a single volume that was meant to encompass

Gold Ruby Glass
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Gold ruby is arguably one of the most beautiful colors of glass. Beyond its aesthetic qualities, there is an alchemical connotation: Since ancient Greek times, descriptions of the sorcerers’ stone agree that it was believed to be a red substance and the key to the transmutation of metals,

Antonio Neri, L’Arte vetraria, 1612
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As the Italian Renaissance entered its last century and Galileo Galilei was using his telescope to advance the science of astronomy, a Florentine priest named Antonio Neri was writing a guide for glassmakers that would inform their craft for the next 200 years. Titled L’Arte vetraria (The art of

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio's De architectura (On architecture) printed in Rome, 1486
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In the canon of architectural writings, this ancient Roman Latin text stands at the summit. It was written by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (fl. first century B.C.) sometime in the late first century B.C. Today’s architecture students find it on their reading lists, and it is still available in paperback

Aristophanes' Nine Comedies and Aristotle's Works printed in Greek by Aldus Manutius in Venice, 1498
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One of the most learned scholar-printers in Venice was Aldus Manutius (1449–1515). He designed a Greek type font that, beginning about 1495, he used to print a series of texts by the ancient Greek masters. The Rakow Research Library has two of these original Aldine editions in its collection. One

Ennion and His Legacy: Mold-Blown Glass from Ancient Rome
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At the end of the first century B.C., glassmakers working in the environs of Jerusalem made a revolutionary breakthrough in the way glass vessels were made. They discovered that a gob of glass could be inflated at the end of a hollow tube. This technical achievement—glassblowing—made the production

Designing for a New Century: Works on Paper by René Lalique and His Contemporaries
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In 1851, the first international exhibition of culture and industry took place in London. Known as The Great Exhibition and the Crystal Palace Exhibition, this showcase for the world of industry and design began a tradition that lasted longer than a century and undoubtedly influenced global trends

A Recently Discovered Cage Cup
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This paper describes and discusses a late Roman cage cup that appeared on the market in 1986 and was acquired by The Corning Museum of Glass in 1987. 1 The hemispherical glass cup has metal fittings which indicate that, at the time of burial, it was meant to be suspended. This raises the

The Thomas Panel
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The Thomas Panel (Fig. 1 [86.1.1]) is an example of late Roman opus sectile wall decoration made of glass. The object, which is said to have been found in the Faiyum, 100 kilometers southwest of Cairo, was acquired by The Corning Museum of Glass in 1986. Part one of this paper (by D.W.) describes

René Lalique
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Glass is a wonderful substance. Everything makes it an incomparable plastic medium in the hands of an ingenious artist, offering his imagination and talent almost limitless scope for discovery. ―René Lalique 1 From 1884, when his first jewelry designs were displayed at the Musée du Louvre, until

Curious and Curiouser: Surprising Finds from the Rakow Library
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When glass artist Mel George teaches a class, she takes her surroundings into account. She tries “to give the students special experiences that the individual places can offer.” So, soon after George and her students arrived at The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass, they set off to explore the

Stained Glass from Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (Soissons) and Comparisons with Glass from Other Medieval Sites
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The abbey of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes has dominated the urban landscape of the northern French city of Soissons since the 11th century. 1 Formally established in 1076, the abbey was built, rebuilt, sacked, and restored from its founding to the present day. In its Gothic phase, the church measured more

Leopold Blaschka and Rudolf Blaschka: Drawings for Glass Models of Marine Invertebrates
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Although many people have either heard about or visited the Harvard collection of glass flowers, few are familiar with their creators, the father and son model makers, Leopold (1822-1895) and Rudolf (1857-1939) Blaschka. Fewer still know about the Blaschkas’ models of soft-bodied undersea creatures

A Conversation Between Rakow Commission Artist Andrew Erdos and Tina Oldknow, Curator of Modern Glass
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The artwork of Andrew Erdos, the Museum’s 2013 Rakow Commission artist, is pop, sarcastic, and humorous, with a hint of social commentary. His over-the-top installations create a situation of sensory overload, which he sees as a reflection of everyday life in urban culture, especially the culture

Revealing the Invisible: The History of Glass and the Microscope
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Glass has long made it possible for people to see the unseeable. The earliest glass “lenses” were actually magnifiers placed directly on objects, helping their users to inspect or read documents that strained their eyesight. True lenses that improved vision appeared first in spectacles around 1285,

Reflecting Antiquity: Modern Glass Inspired by Ancient Rome
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A groundbreaking exhibition produced by the J. Paul Getty Museum and The Corning Museum of Glass, Reflecting Antiquity: Modern Glass Inspired by Ancient Rome opened on October 18, 2007 at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, and ran through January 14, 2008. Then it traveled to The Corning Museum of

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

Mappae Clavicula
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The oldest of the Rakow Library’s holdings, this 12th-century Latin manuscript might best be described as a chemistry book for the medieval artist. The Mappae clavicula presents more than 200 recipes for making various substances used in art and craft. In these formulas, ingredients found in the

Elias Palme
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The firm of Elias Palme, one of several companies started by members of the Palme (or Pallme) family, was founded in Kamenický Šenov, Bohemia, in 1849. Most of the Palmes were glass cutters and engravers, and chandeliers were their principal products. Catalogs show table- and floor-size bronze and

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

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.

The Flood of 1972
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A sign in the Museum’s Admissions Lobby features a red line and the words “High Water Level, June 23, 1972.” This simple label fascinates visitors, but only hints at the devastating story behind it. The marker doesn’t convey that the flood caught the region largely unaware in the early hours of

Prince Rupert's Drop and Glass Stress
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Theoretically, because of the nature of its atomic bonds, glass should be about five times as strong as steel. However, glass tends to have less strength than theory would suggest. One of the main reasons for its loss of strength is surface and internal stress. If glass is cooled too rapidly, high

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

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