Glassblowing is Art in Itself


Country Moon

I look at my west-facing front porch when the sun sets, and I always see a rainbow of colors. Jim, the avid collector, had jars upon jars of marbles. He separated them by color and put them in fancy bottles (which he also collected). There is nothing prettier than them sitting on the windowsill with the sun streaming through them.

Glass. Do you ever stop to think how much easier, richer, and more beautiful it makes our lives? Though not a collector myself, I do appreciate glass and how it dresses up our lives. Like most other things, glass is more than it seems.

Quite simply, glass is quartz silica, which is basically refined sand. It occurs naturally in the form of obsidian at the mouth of volcanoes. Glass-making began around 4000 BC, and modern glass is created in furnaces that burn at 1700 degrees Celsius.

blown glass1

There are various forms of glass, although they are all created in the same manner. The impurities in it are what gives different pieces the different colors and characteristics. Depression Glass is one of the most vintage and one of the most collected. It is characterized by the process used to manufacture the pieces through stamping or forming the pieces in a mold. It was basically the everyday tableware made from machine-pressed glass during the 1920s and the 1940s, thus it got its name from the Depression era. It comes in a variety of colors ranging from light green to yellow, pink, and clear. It was often put in cereal boxes or offered as a prize for visiting certain establishments.

Crystal is another type of glass that is highly collected and prized. The distinction of crystal over glass is that crystal must contain at least 24 percent lead, whereas glass contains no lead. Waterford Crystal — the leader in the industry — may often contain 32 percent lead. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between crystal and glass; usually the tell-tale signs are that crystal will have a distinct ring to it when tapped, and it is heavier than glass.

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On an Alaskan cruise my wife and I got to actually make our own ornaments in Skagway at a place called Garden City Glassworks. We were guided by an experienced glass worker, but we still were able to hold the pipe and do other work as he instructed. For anyone interested in glass work, I suggest you find a place or someone who will let you participate a little. It will either drive you away, or light your fire for it!

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