The Evolution of Glass Art: New Ways to Make Old Art

December 29, 2015

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glass sculptures

The art of making glass sculptures dates back to around the same time as the establishment of the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC, which enhanced the spread and dominance of this new technology.

Since that time, contemporary glass artists have perfected the craft of working with glass and even devised new ways of creating glass sculptures. Here is how they do it.

Flameworking, which is also called lampworking, uses flame (as the name implies) in the process of making glass sculptures, as glass is transformed from raw materials at temperatures of around 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. Pre-made ‘borosilicate’ glass tubes and rods are heated with a hand held or bench torch in order to form the glass. This process is used to make beads, jewelry, ornaments, and small figurines. This particular method of making glass sculptures is quite popular, because it can handle extreme temperature changes without cracking.

Warm Glass
The “warm glass” process heats glass in a kiln, or oven. Glass sculptures made using a kiln are sometimes referred to as “slumped glass,” “fused glass,” “kiln glass,” “kiln casted glass,” “bent glass,” “glass bending,” and “pate de verre.” The reason it’s called warm glass is because it heats glass up to about 1250 – 1400 degrees, less than other types of glass making. This makes the glass hot enough to bend or move with gravity. Fused glass describes pieces that have been warmed up enough using temperatures between 1400 and 1600 degrees to meld or fuse together. These two techniques are often performed in tandem with one another.

Etched Glass
Etched, or “frosted” glass refers to any glass art that’s had its surface “etched” away. This can be done using acid, which creates a matte finish and gives the glass a more translucent quality, or sandblasting, which blasts the glass with sand to create a similar effect.

These are just a few of the techniques that have been developed in the time since glass art was first created. If you have any questions about how they do it, feel free to share in the comments.