Glass surrounds us, providing us protection from wind and rain in our homes or cars while allowing us to see what surrounds us outside. There are countless items and things made from glass around the world, and more are created every day.
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.
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 items made from glass
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 Things Made From Glass
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.
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.
Difference Between Crystal and Glass
If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between crystal and glass, the answer might be summed up with one word: “fine”.
Traditional glass tends to be less malleable and workable when melted, which means finished pieces tend to be clunkier and thicker.
On the other hand, specific mineral and chemical additions can create a stronger, more malleable material; this can be crafted into thinner, finer, more elegant pieces of tableware and art. But the full answer is a little more complicated, so read on to learn more.
Quick History of the Solid Glass Types
While solid glass ingots and sheets were first produced thousands of years ago in Egypt and Mesopotamia, glassblowing was invented in Syria around 100 BCE, and modern-day glass-blowing materials and equipment such as molds, tubing,and griffin glass tools would still be recognizable to ancient glassmakers.
After the ancient process was imported to Rome, artists continued to hone their craft by experimenting with additives and procedures that would give rise to the product known as “crystal” by the fifteenth century. But describing these types of fine products as “crystal” is something of a misnomer, since true crystal is formed in nature as once-molten material cools and its molecules form a repeating pattern.
As artisans copied and refined this process in their shops over a few thousand years, Italian glassmakers experimented with new additives and created a fine, colorless glass. They named it “cristallo”, and a new luxury product was born.
The primary additive that gave man-made crystal its unique properties was originally lead, but today there are several other alternatives.
Production standards vary globally: UK standards dictate that, for a piece to be considered as fine crystal, it must contain a minimum of 24 percent mineral additives, but there are currently no such stipulations in the US. Below are a few more differences that you’ll find if you’re in the market.
Appearance of glass
Basic, traditional glass will likely have a warm-toned appearance, possibly with a small degree of opacity or dullness. Crystal tends to have a bluish tinge with a greater degree of clarity, as well as a prismatic effect or even a “sparkle” to it.
One can use a pocket blacklight to look at the phosphorescence of the piece; a greenish glow indicates a traditional glass piece, whereas a purplish or bluish hue indicates the presence of additives.
Crystal has a very distinct resonance when tapped gently with a fork or similar metal object, or when you drag a wet finger across the rim.
When lightly tapping a standard glass piece, you may hear a chunkier sound that doesn’t have a ring to it — the sound will be more like a “tink” rather than a “ting”. Crystal pieces have a ring to them and in some cases, they are specifically made to make music.
Price of glass and crystals
You’ll want to perform some due diligence before opening your wallet. If you see a piece that seems more expensive than typical glassware, you might suspect that it’s crystal, though you’ll want to check if the item is in its original packaging.
Care and handling
You might be wondering if crystal is safe for table use. Traditional glass is non-porous and non-reactive, which makes it an excellent candidate for use in dishwashers and food and beverage storage. As these pieces are generally more affordable and perhaps sturdier, they are more suited for everyday use.
Crystal glassware, however, is more porous and therefore not suitable for dishwashers or long-term storage of beverages or food items. It tends to be finer, more delicate, and more expensive, and thus is best reserved for occasional use.
While some kinds of crystal products are lead-free, experts warn against frequent use of leaded-crystal products. And they don’t recommend storing liquids in containers like whiskey decanters for long. Lead antique pieces are best to be admired in a collection, instead.