A Day at the Museum


We use glass every day. It’s so ubiquitous that most of the time it fades into the background.  We  literally look right through it and don’t even see it.  That’s good when you are driving a car or staring through your bifocals.  But,  if you have ever walked through a plate glass window, you will quickly remember that glass is present.  (Unless you’re Criss Angel.)

As I said in last week’s post, glass is basically melted sand. What I did not know when I wrote last week’s post was that the invention of the blow pipe made it easier to make glass and cheaper too.  Now, even though I barely passed high school chemistry, I know from my own glass experience that mixing air with the fuel makes it burn hotter and cleaner and makes for more efficient glass melting.  So the blow pipe was a big deal. And though we can trace the first glass back to 3500 BCE, transparent glass did not appear until Venetian glass maker Angelo Barovier created it in the 15th Century.  Even then, having clear glass windows was an expensive proposition and there were many more advancements in glass technology and manufacturing before we got to the glass we know today.  But if you think you know a lot about, glass you probably don’t know the half of it.  That’s why you should take a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass.

Patty looking through a magnifying lens

The stated mission of the Corning Glass Museum is to “tell the world about glass.”  Any comprehensive exploration of glass  straddles the line between art and science. There’s probably no other artistic medium (aside from pottery) that does this so obviously and the scientific developments in glass have been dramatic. What I like most about the museum is that it pays attention to both sides of this fascinating substance.  


We started the day with a glass blowing demonstration.

Glass frit and colorants

From there we went to the modern Art Glass


Corning GM(GlassFiber)3

Corning GM(Lynx)2

Then worked our way through the ancient glass and the history of glass exhibits.

Corning GM44


From there, we hopped over to the scientific glass portion where I learned about lenses, telescopes, safety glass and glass with thermal properties.

Patty and I staring into a thermal camera

The museum building itself is beautifully designed and a very relaxing space.


We only scratched the surface on our visit; there are all kinds of activities and classes including Master Classes for lamp workers and glass blowers taught by top artists from around the world.    Click here  to go to Corning’s YouTube site which contains dozens of videos on every aspect of glass you can imagine.  Click here to go to my Flickr page and see the other pictures I took at the Museum




Glass! Refused and Recast

Glass Scraps
I am a natural born recycler and I love to play with glass.  Glass is very easy to recycle so long as you keep glasses of different C.O.E.s separate.    And when you do lamp working,  you always lose a few beads.  Instead of throwing the glass away,  I usually separate in into similar colors much as people save scraps of polymer clay and then I pound it into frit with my home made frit maker.  See a tutorial on how to make one here.    I bought some glass casting molds from Delphi Glass more than a year ago and finally got to try them out a couple of weeks ago.    Needless to say this is a whole new technique for me because casting and fusing use different skill sets.    I have been trying various firing schedules to see which work best and have been reading about the best way to prepare my glass for the molds.  The glass pieces you see in the molds here are too big.  When they melt, they won’t fill the mold and I will get sharp pointy edges because that’s how glass cooyls when there’s not enough of it.  Which means I get to cast the pieces again  adding more glass to the mold cavities and breathlessly waiting to see what I get.  I am learning how to cast fat, happy baubles and how to sand off rough edges and fire polish the glass.
Here are some of my first completed cast pieces (above).  I have a long way to go.  Everything in the post is made from Moretti glass,  dichroic and clear Moretti  and broken  or rejected (ugly) Moretti beads.  When casting or fusing old beads, you have to clean every bit of the bead release out of the holes or it will show up in the cast or fused piece.
Here are some fused pieces.  Most of these have been fired at least two and sometimes three times.  You don’t always get it right the first time, but you can cut glass, reassemble it and fire it again.
Two sides of one bead with a piece of dichroic on top and clear glass over all.
This was cast in a mold and I added millefiore and some dichroic and clear glass on top of the frit
Parts of this bead had swirls and dots on it.
This was a hollow bead of silvered ivory and cobalt glass.  The hole of the bead was that little bubble in the middle of the blue.
Here is some more silvered ivory glass.  See how the clear layer on the left piece magnifies what’s underneath?
Recommended book
Kiln Firing Glass: Glass Fusing Book One by Boyce Lindstrom.   It can be expensive buy it’s possible to find good used copies on sale.
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