How Is Glass Made?

Glass is made from a mixture of minerals melted together at a very high temperature. Silicon dioxide is the base of the glass, which is also the main component found in sand. So glass is essentially liquid sand.

To make glass, sand is heated until it becomes a liquid. After the molten sand cools down, it doesn’t revert to its original state. It goes through an entire transformation, which alters its inner structure. Even once the sand is cooled it’s still not a solid or a liquid, it’s both. Glass is referred to an amorphous solid—a cross between a liquid and solid.

For commercial glass that you see in ordinary windows or PYREX cookware, recycled glass is mixed with sand, limestone, soda ash, and heated in a furnace.

Once the sand is melted down, it can be poured into different molds to make glasses, jars, bottles, and other containers. To make windows, the melted sand is dispensed over molten tin for a completely flat shape.

In nature, when lightning strikes sand a vitrification of quartz—or transformation—turns the sand into glass. You’re not very likely to find chunks of glass after a storm since sand has an incredibly high melting point of 1700 degrees Celsius.

Glassblowers use a gob of molten glass wrapped on a pipe to create beautiful and delicate pieces of art. The tube is slowly rotated while air is blown through, causing a balloon to form at the end. This balloon can be shaped into amazing pieces with skilled blowing and turn.

Glassmakers add different metals and chemicals to alter the ordinary glass. Adding chromium and iron gives the glass a green tint that you frequently see in beer bottles. For a fine crystal glass that’s easy to cut, lead is added to the mixture.

Glass Fusing – What Is It?

By definition, glass fusing is the method used to combine glass pieces by partially melting the glass at very high temperatures. It’s the heat bonding of individual pieces of glass commonly performed in a kiln. Fusing can be done to create stunning works such as jewelry, sculptures, and tableware.

A kiln is an oven or furnace. Typically a kiln is used for baking and drying in pottery, but it’s also a necessity in glassblowing. A kiln is used for slowly cooling—annealing—hot glass after it’s taken its form.

Instead of soldering the pieces of glass together, the glass is overlapped on each other and fired in the kiln with temperatures ranging from 750-850 degrees Celsius.

Fusing cannot be done between glass pieces with different viscosities, as it will cause the glass crack once it’s cooled down. The glass pieces must have the same coefficient of expansion to prevent breakage. Glassblowers tend to stick to using the same brand of glass to ensure proper fusion and compatibility between the pieces.

Other tools such as running, grozing, and breaking pliers are essential glass cutting tools. Running pliers apply pressure to the areas of scored glass so that it breaks evenly. Grozing pliers come in handy for chipping away any excess glass before you start fusing. Finally breaking pliers break the glass along the scored lines you’ve created. Like in ceramics, you have to score—or put lines in—the glass to create a stronger fusion, which is why these pliers are a necessity.

In glass fusion, molds can be used through a process called slumping, which is glass shaped over a mold in high temperatures. The Romans used slumping when creating open vessels like plates and bowls. These molds determine what the shape of your glass will be after it’s fired in the kiln. You can purchase premade molds or make your own at home, but make sure they can withstand temperatures of 927 degrees Celsius.  

Glass fusion allows the artist to bend and shape glass into different forms to create beautiful pieces.

Creative Ways to Reuse Glass Jars

Whether it’s an old jar you dug up in the garage a used container of tomato sauce, these glass vessels can be reused in many different ways.

Recycled Jar Terrariums

Combine potting soil with rocks, seashells, and other adornments into an old glass jar. Add in several small succulents or plants inside and top it off with a lid. Keep your terrarium flourishing by placing it in the sunlight and adding a few sprays of water to maintain the soil’s moisture.

Flower Vase

Choose your favorite blooms to put in a used pickle jar. You can leave the jar plain or decorate it with twine, ribbon, fabric, or modge podge.

Painted Jars

Pick out your favorite colors to swirl around inside a mason jar. You can also hand-paint the outside surface with different designs to your choosing.

Hanging Vases

Securely wrap the lip of your jar with twine or metal. Knot an extra piece of material that’s long enough to hang from the ceiling. Make sure to reinforce the ties so that the jars won’t fall.

Illuminating Jars

Set a relaxing mood with some soft lighting. Put stringed lights inside your jar to illuminate it. If you want to avoid the wires, then put glow-in-the-dark paint inside for a green glow.

Storage

Organize your utensils, erasers, paperclips, and other desktop items in labeled jars.  Try labeling the jars with chalkboard material, for a rustic look. You can also store different spices, baking ingredients, and dried goods to keep your shelves in shape.

Candles

Use a jelly jar to make your own candles. Simply fit a wick with metal tab and add in heated beeswax. Put a few drops of essential oils such as jasmine or lavender for a relaxing scent.

Glass jars can be reused for a variety of purposes and decorations that can add a fun addition to your home. Pick up a jar and get creative!

Art Projects Using Broken Glass

Glass art in the form of sculptures, jewelry, and windows are often stunning pieces to have in your home. These works tend to be fragile and unfortunately can break. So if you have a shattered vase or just old colored bottles you’re looking to get crafty with, try one of these art projects using broken glass.

Framed Art

Find an old wooden frame at home or in a secondhand store. Piece together different pieces of glass to create a picture. Add in shells, sea glass, or starfish for a nautical theme.

Turtle

Make a mishmash turtle with broken green glass. Use different colors to create shading and make your creature look more lifelike. You can also sketch out any other animal to form out of the glass shards.

Mosaic

Prepare mortar, using a set mold for its shape. After the mortar has set, place the pieces of broken glass in securely. You can add in broken tiles, stones, and shells as well. Follow a premade design or create a mixture of different colors for a rainbow sculpture.

You can also create hearts, circles, handprints, and letters with the mortar to give your artwork a fun shape. Choose a grout color that will accent your mosaic and use it to fill in between the pieces of glass. Once your piece has been set, and the excess material is wiped away, finish it off with a gloss to preserve it for years to come.

Glass Fusion

If you are a glassblower, then you can fuse your pieces of broken glass together. The glass must be of the same viscosity to properly fuse, so only use material from the same company. Make jewelry, soap dishes, or crazy sculptures by combining different pieces of together.

Tumble Art

If you don’t want to work with sharp pieces of glass, then place the pieces in a tumbler. This method will smooth the edges down, and create the appearance of sea glass, which can be used in jewelry or for filling up vessels to place around your house.  

Keep in mind that glass, especially broken glass, is very sharp. Use caution and gloves if available when dealing with the glass to avoid painful cuts and slivers.

All About Blown Glass Art

Glassblowing is a technique that can be dated back to the first century when glassmakers used inflation to form pieces of glass art. The art of glassblowing was invented during the Roman Empire and later expanded to the Greeks and Egyptians.

Glassblowing continues to be a popular art with more impressive pieces created every day. To make these wonderful works, a glassblower uses a tube to expand molten glass into a bubble that is then shaped and colored.  The glass is manipulated with a variety of tools and a torch to create different shapes.

There are two methods of glassblowing—mold-blowing and free-blowing. Free-blowing was the first technique ever used and is still popular today. It involves clay blowpipes that are used by glassblowers to shape the piece to their desire ultimately. Mold-blowing involves placing the molten glass on the end of the clay pipe and setting it into a metal or wooden mold. While free-blowing allows for more control over the glass, both techniques can produce stunning works of art.

After the glass is shaped, the glassblowers can add it color and patterns. This addition can be done in many different ways such as combining colored powder and frit—colored pieces of glass makes for the beautiful pieces you see in stores today. Molten glass can also be rolled in powdered color for different hues.

Glass is one of the world’s most ancient and adaptable man-made materials. Today, glassblowing is a worldwide movement with many different institutions across the globe offering to train hopefuls in techniques and equipment use.

The Corning Museum of Glass located in New York dedicates itself to the history, science, and creation of glass. It’s a prime example of the influence glass has had in many different cultures. Founded in 1951, the museum has over 45,000 glass pieces with some dating back thousands of years. You can learn everything there is to know about glass and even watch a live glassblower making art.