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[Stained Glass Gems] All About Glass
August 16, 2009

Issue 008

Welcome to all stained glass enthusiasts. These Stained Glass Gems have been found during my frequent browsing and deep digging for helpful and or unusual stained glass web sites, as well as other information pertaining to stained glass. I have a long list that I will share with you over the months ahead. I do hope that there's a gem or two that will brighten your day and be helpful during your stained glass journey.

This month's ezine will be a little different in format, and I apologize for the length, but I want to tell you about the glass you use in your stained glass projects...the different ways it's made, the manufacturers, and the vast variety of types of glass. Many people get confused with the terminology used to describe the types of glass, so I hope to clear that up for you with this ezine.

How Glass is Made

According to the method it is made, there are two basic types of glass. They are Antique or Blown Glass and Rolled Glass.

Rolled Glass, which we use the majority of the time, is made in huge fire pots, in furnaces that have temperatures up to 2400 degrees F. The mixture of sand and other ingredients, which include oxides to make various colors, is in the furnace around 15 to 20 hours.

When the glass is ready to be made into sheets, it looks like steaming hot taffy. It is poured on metal tables and rolled out to form sheets of glass. The sheets, which are extremely hot, are put in annealing ovens to cool in a controlled environment. If the glass cools to quickly, the center will be hotter than the outside surface and the glass will fracture due to the stress caused by cold pulling against hot. This very seldom happens and when it does, it is caught by quality control so we don't have to worry about getting "bad" glass.

Back in the early days of my stained glass life, there was one manufacturer that did not have the annealing process figured out. It was like playing the lottery when we used that particular manufacturers' glass. Sometimes it would break as soon as we touched it with our glass cutter, other times it would be fine. Thank goodness, that company went out of business. If any of you have been around long enough to remember Merry Go Round Glass, I'm sure you'll remember what I'm talking about.

Virtual Tour of Three Rolled Glass Manufacturers

Here is a Virtual Tour of the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company. If you ever have the chance, it is an amazing place to visit. Kokomo makes their glass just about the same way they did when the company was founded 118 years ago.

This is a Virtual Tour of the Spectrum Glass Company. Spectrum makes their glass in a very automated way, much different from the way Kokomo makes their glass.

Tour the Youghiogheny Glass Company. Touring their glass making facility will show you how hand crafted glass is made. It is made in small batches. When we were there, we were guided through, right there among the workers, furnaces, rollers, etc. If you go there, you must visit their Gallery/Outlet store called Youghiogheny Station. I think of it as the glass workers' version of heaven! If you visit Youghiogheny, a wonderful side trip is Frank Lloyd Wright's house Fallingwater, which isn't very far away.

Antique Glass is made by the same method that was used in the Middle Ages. It is not necessarily old itself but made in the traditional method of handblowing.

It is made by blowing a long cylinder. The ends are opened up and the cylinder is cut length wise. The piece is then reheated in a furnace until it can be opened and flattened out creating a sheet of glass. Here's a short video of Antique Glass being made by the Lamberts Glass Company in Germany. If you have the time and feel inclined to watch, here's 17 minutes of video from Lamberts that goes into detail about making antique glass. Part 1 and Part 2 I found it fascinating, but I'm a big push over for anything about stained glass!!

Antique glass usually varies slightly in thickness and has wonderful irregularities such as varying sized bubbles which add interest to the glass. Antique glass usually has striations on the surface which adds vibrant life to the glass.

A variation of antique glass is Flashed Glass. It has a paper thin layer of a second color added to one side of the glass. Flashed glass can be sandblasted or acid etched on the flash side, removing the color and exposing the base. There are also machine rolled glasses that mimic the striations found in antique glasses. GNA (German New Antique) and FNA (French New Antique)are two such machine made glasses.

After watching the videos, you will understand why antique glass is so expensive. You can make amazing windows with antique glass I've seen a whole sheet of antique glass used as a window. Nothing more than a lead frame and the beauty of the piece of glass.

Glass Manufacturers

Armstrong Glass is located in Kennesaw/Atlanta, Georgia. You can see their glass Here. I have not used much Armstrong glass, only because it wasn't available in Australia when I was doing the majority of my work. They have some stunning colors and textures and it's worth a look if you need something for a special project.

The Bullseye Glass Company is located in Portland, Oregon
We visited them way back in 1971, when they were in their infancy. I'm sure the tour is quite different from what we got then! Have a look at their glass Here. They make some awesome speciality glass with colors that are unmatched by any other manufacturer. Their glass is expensive, but adding small pieces here and there can make a big impact on any panel you create. Bullseye is my preference for fusing. Their glass is labeled with a B or the word Bullseye.

Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company located in Kokomo, Indiana
Their logo is KOG. When you see that on the sticker, you'll know that the glass was made by Kokomo. You may just see a K with numbers after it. The numbers denote the color. Here is a digital sample box of Kokomo glass.

Spectrum Glass Company located in Woodinville, Washington (a Seattle suburb).
The sticker on their glass will have an S or the word Spectrum in front of the numbers. You can download a product catalogs from their web site.

Spectrum glass is the least expensive of all stained glass, and the easiest for beginners to cut.

Uroboro Glass is located in Portland, Oregon. Their label will say Uroboros. Their glass is similar to Youghiogheny Glass and has the same uses. You can see their product line Here You can download color recommendations for Tiffany lamps and lampshades made on the Odyssey lamp forms.

Wissmach Glass is located in Paden City, West Virginia. Their glass will have a W or the full word Wissmach. They give tours of their facility and you can buy glass at incredibly low prices. They set out cases of broken glass where you can get pieces in almost any size you want. They don't always have a full selection, but what they do have will keep most glass workers happy for a long time. You can see their samples Here. Their English Muffle is my favorite cathedral glass. It looks beautiful in traditional style windows, suncatchers, candle shelters, boxes or anything else you would use cathedral glass in. English Muffle Book of Designs, by Peter Foster, is a book that features English Muffle glass in all of the patterns. If you like Victorian style windows, I'm sure you'll like this book.

Youghiogheny Glass Company is located in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. Their logo is an Indian Head. On the glass you might see the logo or a Yough or Youghiogheny Glass. Here is where you can see samples of their art glass. Click on each type to see their full spectrum of colors. Youghiogheny is my favorite art glass. The colors are magnificent and each piece has a life of its own. It's not a beginners glass, but once you feel comfortable cutting glass, try some Youghiogheny glass. It's wonderful for lampshades, and makes beautiful boxes.

That pretty much covers the American made art glass that is used by the majority of stained glass hobbyists, and is usually available at most stained glass suppliers.

Types of Glass

Each manufacturer makes some glass that is unique just to them, as well as the common types of glass such as cathedral and opalescent. I'm not going to tell you what to use each type of glass for. That way you won't have any preconceived ideas about them. When you look at the samples I hope you'll get ideas about where that particular glass could be used.

Types of Glass

Baroque - A pattern of glass, manufactured by the Spectrum Glass Company, consisting of a color or sometimes two, combined with clear class in a swirled pattern.

Cathedral Glass
is one solid color that is absolutely transparent. Cathedral glass comes in every color you could possibly imagine. It might have a slight texture on the back from the steel plate it was rolled out on.

English Muffle Glass Refers to the texture design created by Wissmach Glass Company that creates a highly refractive texture and crystalline look in the glass. It is one of my favorite cathedral glasses, both for the effect it gives as well as the variety of colors. You can see it used in the book "English Muffle Book of Design" by Peter Foster. A very good pattern book for Victorian designs.

Glue Chip Glass A unique surface texture created by applying a thin layer of animal hide glue to a cathedral glass and then heated in an oven. As the glue dries it pulls away from the glass surface and chips it. Different patterns created include single, double, and oceanic. The texture is often described as feathered or like frost on a window pane. Also called as chipped glass.

GNA, FNA, Artique Machine made glass that simulates antique glass.

Iridescent Glass
a thin layer of metallic crystal has been bonded to these glasses during sheet forming, creating a colorful, shimmering surface effect. Some people describe it as looking like oil on water.

Opalescent Glass
is made with a combination of white glass and a cathedral color. The opacity of this type of glass is in relation to the amount of white glass used in its creation. Dense opal base glass uses a higher consistency of white glass than light opal base glass. Because of this change in mixtures, dense opal base glass is much more opaque than light opal base glasses.

Ring Mottles Named for the crystal growth that forms round or circular patterns of color characteristic of this glass. Mottled glass generally is a mix of several colors. The mottling produces a very dynamic, organic look, giving the glass a certain dimensional quality due in part to the variations in color, density, and textural surface.

Seedy Glass that has small bubbles on one side of the sheet.

Streaky Streaky glass is manufactured by adding a color or colors to a clear glass base. The color is mixed with the clear base to provide streaks of color throughout the sheet. The transparency of streaky glass is dependent on the colors used.

Fracture Glass Refers to a sheet of glass with a pattern of irregularly shaped, thin glass wafers affixed to its surface. Tiffany made use of such textured glass to represent, for example, foliage seen from a distance. The irregular glass wafers, called fractures, are prepared from very hot, colored molten glass, gathered at the end of a blowpipe. A large bubble is forcefully blown until the walls of the bubble rapidly stretch, cool and harden. The resulting glass bubble has paper-thin walls and is immediately shattered into shards. These hand blown shards are pressed on the surface of the molten glass sheet during the rolling process, to which they become permanently fused.

Streamer Glass Streamers are prepared from very hot molten glass, gathered at the end of a punty (that is rapidly swung back and forth and stretched into long, thin strings that rapidly cool and harden. These hand-stretched streamers are pressed on the molten surface of sheet glass during the rolling process, and become permanently fused.

Fracture-Streamer Glass The process is as above except that both streamers and fractures are applied to sheet glass during the rolling process. Tiffany made use of such textured glass to represent, for example, twigs, branches and grass, and distant foliage.

Textures, you can get on one side of the glass. Textures come on cathedral as well as opalescent glass.

Waterglass Cathedral Glass, made by Spectrum, with a beautiful surface texture, which creates the effect of shimmering rippled water.

Wispy Cathedral or opalescent glass containing white cloud-like streaks.

On pages 72-77 of the SGAA Source Book, you will find an extensive overview of the types of glass used for stained glass work.

Let's Chat

I've only visited the Fused and Stained Glass Source message board a couple of times, but there seems to be quite a bit of activity. I like the fact that it covers traditional stained glass, fusing and lampwork all in one place.

Where To Get It

I finally found a reliable place to get the White Scrub Pads at a reasonable price. You will get 10 pads for $5.46 plus Shipping and Handling. I ordered them, and they arrived within a few days of my order.

Tips and Techniques

Choose your glass carefully for each project. Try to use a mixture of textures and types to give your project life, and to make it uniquely yours. Try to stay away from using all opalescent or all cathedral glass in a panel. Don't be afraid of your glass...have fun with it.

Selecting glass for your projects is an enjoyable experience, but it can get confusing once you enter the store. There are so many colors and textures to choose from that it's easy to spend a lot of time and money. Try to stay focused on buying the glass for your project at hand rather than every buying sparkly bauble you come across. If you could see my glass racks, you'd realize that I don't practice what I preach!

This Is Important
When you are buying glass for a project, you should keep a record of the manufacturer and color code for each glass you use. That information will be most helpful if you need to order more glass. You should also keep notes about how each glass cuts, any tricks you learn about cutting it, and which side you cut it on. All of this information will help you in subsequent projects. If the manufacturer and color code aren't on the glass, ask for it.

Lastly, if at all possible, buy your glass from a local supplier rather than ordering it online. Every sheet of glass is going to be a bit different unless it's a solid color. Once you get into using streaky/mixed color glass, you will find that each sheet differs from slightly to a whole lot. The supplier buys the glass in a sheet that is approximately 2 ft wide by 4 foot long. They cut it up into square foot pieces. Depending on how the colors were mixed, you will find a huge variation from on end of the large sheet to the other end. Once it's cut into square foot pieces, sometimes you wouldn't even know that they came from the same sheet. If you want consistency in streaks, or you need the streaks to look a certain way, it's much easier to pick the glass out yourself rather than relying on someone grabbing sheets of glass off a rack in a warehouse. You will find some online suppliers that will try to pick what you want, like Delphi, but it's still easier to pick it yourself.

In The Works and Completed Work

My new knee is coming along well. I don't see any marathons in the near future, but long walks will be coming soon. I want to thank everyone that sent me get well wishes.

I will be starting a new ebook, "Boxes and Beyond", very soon. It will cover boxes with lift off lids, elegant boxes, business card holders, pencils holders for the desk, and candle shelters.

Miscellaneous Stuff!

The Score, Spectrum Glass Summer Issue is now available online. It is full of patterns and ideas.

Best deals in art glass suppliesDelphi Stained Glass Supplies is a place I have bought many supplies from over the years. Some very helpful people work there. I once needed a sheet of a particular Kokomo streaky glass that had the color distribution in a particular sequence. While I was on the phone, the sales person was in the warehouse pulling out glass and describing it to me. When it arrived, it was exactly what I wanted. You can't ask for better service than that!

book"Make a Box With a Hinged Lid" is an ebook that will walk you through making a stained glass box. Read about what is included in the book and how it will simplify box making. You will get a free gift when you order. "Make a Box With a Hinged Lid"

Have a look at How-To DVDs You're going to find hundreds of "How To" DVD's for rent. They have some very interesting stained glass tutorials which can be found at Glass

Do you need a pattern resizer or a design program? I can highly recommend Pattern Wizard and Rapid Resizer. They are reasonably priced and you get a fairly long free trial before you have to commit to paying for them. You have the option of buying one or the other or both.

Just in case you don't know, the Stained Glass Gems ezine is mailed out the third Sunday of every month. Be on the look out for [Stained Glass Gems] Issue 9 on Sunday, September 20th.

I want to encourage you to have fun and experiment with your glass. Try new things and different techniques. It's amazing what you can do when you "think outside the box."


Stained Glass Patterns and Tutorials

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