Blown, fused, slumped, cast, carved, etched or cut – glass can be used as a medium in all of these ways and more to create beautiful and delicate objects of art.
What is glass made of? How is it formed? Let’s answer these questions and take a look at the different forms and functions of this versatile material within the art world.
For centuries glass has been an invaluable resource for making functional objects that are essential for daily life. Made of soda ash and silica, a chemical compound that is much like sand, glass is fluid and malleable when heated up to very high temperatures. Artists can take advantage of this fluidity and can experiment with color and form to create fantastic works of art.
Glassblowing is a process that takes years of practice and finesse to master. The process begins with small shards of cold glass slowly melting in a vessel inside a large furnace over several hours. Once the glass is up to the right temperature it becomes liquid and will have a syrup-like consistency. The glassblower then uses a long pipe to gather a ball of hot glass on the very end by dipping it into the furnace. They will then blow through the pipe to inflate the glass so they can then manipulate it. Working with metal tools and gravity, they will bend and shape the glass as they wish.
Once they are satisfied with the glass they will disconnect it from the pipe, placing the finished piece in a small heated furnace to cool down slowly over night. The result is a unique work of art.