Glass surrounds us, providing us protection from wind and rain in our homes or cars while allowing us to see what surrounds us outside. Glass is made from sand, but we can see through it. It is strong enough to protect us, yet can shatter easily.

Despite the fact that glass is a hard surface, it is actually more of a liquid, known as an amorphous solid by scientists. Glass is easy to shape when it is softened and resistant to heat when it sets. Glass is also completely recyclable, making it one of the most Earth-friendly substances. The versatility of glass allows it to be used in a multitude of ways, some of which you may not even realize.

Bricks

Today, many bricks used for building materials contain recycled glass, but this process has been happening for centuries. As far back as ancient Asia, glass was added to clay for density as well as translucency. Irish Belleek pottery has as much as 50 percent glass and, in the 16th century, Italian Medici porcelains had a significant amount of glass as well. Using glass in bricks reduces the amount of concrete needed as part of the manufacturing process. A reduction of one ton of cement eliminates a significant amount of carbon dioxide from the environment.

Jewelry

Many different types of glass are used to create jewelry and it may surprise you to know how many different types of jewelry are actually glass. Glass jewelry isn’t fragile and may not even be delicate. Glass jewelry is made by melting and forming glass into shapes or by layering small pieces of glass together to achieve a pattern. Sea glass is growing in popularity for use in jewelry.

Also known as beach glass, sea glass is formed when a broken piece of glass ends up in the sea. It is then tumbled by waves and sand until the edges are smoothed and the surface becomes opaque. The stunning colors and unique shapes allow artisans to create stunning, one-of-a-kind jewelry.

Recreational Items

Although it isn’t unusual that some recreational items, like glasses, tobacco smoking devices like those offered by Mile High Pipe & Tobacco, or gaming system screens, are made of glass, there are others that you may not realize are actually made from glass or recycled glass. Virtual reality devices, although the screens may feel as if they are plastic, more than likely include some type of glass.

On a recent television show, Sebastian Thrun of Google demonstrated the latest technology from the electronics giant, Project Glass. The latest from Google includes special glasses that project a computer display, using glass and mirrors, onto one eye. It allows you to look things up, send messages by voice and even take pictures by blinking.

Art

Glass has been used in art for centuries, but today’s artists are taking the concept of using glass in their artwork to an entirely new level. Carol Milne incorporates concepts of knitting, mold-making, lost-wax casting as well as kiln-casting to create what she calls Knitted Glass. Karen LaMonte creates cast-glass life-size clothing sculptures created entirely of glass while Dellene Peralta creates sculpted glass shoes.

Cathryn Shilling creates solid glass pieces using a weaving technique that makes the glass look like fabric. Jean-Pierre Canlis creates glass sculptures that look like items found in nature, like cattails or reeds, while Rashad Alakbarov creates what he calls “light paintings,” large installations of colored shards of glass hung in patterns from the ceiling.

These are just a few unique ways that glass is being used today. These ideas go beyond the simple glass window, the drinking glass on your desk, or the windshield of your car.

Incredible Planet Staff

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