Modern Times Glass Art and the History Behind It

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Studio glass, also known as glass sculpture, is the form of using glass in an artistic way to make sculptures or 3D art. In modern times glass art, the glass objects are made and intended to be used as a sculpture or decoration. Their selling prices can range from anywhere between a few hundred to ten thousand dollars.

Glass started out as a functional and decorative art form in Egypt and Assyria. It was invented by the Phoenicians, and then popularized by Romans. During the Middle Ages, architects that built the Norman and Gothic cathedrals of Europe started using stained glass windows in their buildings as decoration, taking glass to new places. Venetian glass, which is glass from Murano, in the Venetian Lagoon, came about from hundreds of years of invention and refinement. Murano is still regarded as where modern times glass art was birthed today.

The top of the old art glass movement was during the 19th century, when factory glass blowers were getting replaced by mechanical blowing of bottles and continuous window glass. Glass continued to get improved by companies like Tiffany, Daum, Lalique, Steuben Glass Works, and more in the upper new York state.

The international studio glass movement started in America, then spread to Europe, the UK, Asia, and Australia. This modern times glass art movement let other glass makers share knowledge and ideas among each other in a way that was not possible before.

In modern glass studios today, there are several varieties of techniques used to make glass art, such as stained glass, working glass at room temperature, cold, or in a torch flame (also known as lamp working), glass bead making, glass fusing, glass blowing, and glass casting. Glass can also be cut with diamond saws, or copper wheels with abrasives, and then polished to create shiny facets.

Sometimes art can be etched into the glass with abrasive, caustic, or acid materials. Usually this is done after the glass is blown or cast. However, in the 1920’s a new mould etch process was made, where art was etched into the mould, so that the image would already be there when the glass was made. This reduced the cost of manufacturing, and led to cheap glassware being created thanks to more usage of colored glass.

Another type of glass similar to mold or cast glass is slumped or fused glass. This glass is created in a similar way, but not at as high of a temperature. The glass is only heated enough to put a shape or texture into it, or to stick a lot of glass pieces together without glue.