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[Stained Glass Gems] All About Glass
August 16, 2009
Welcome to all stained glass enthusiasts. These Stained Glass Gemshave 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company located in Kokomo, Indiana
Spectrum Glass Company located in Woodinville, Washington (a Seattle suburb).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
The Score, Spectrum Glass Summer Issue is now available online. It is
full of patterns and ideas.
Delphi 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!
"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"
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
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."
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