Art Glass – All About Fusing, Glass Blowing, Beadmaking, Lampwork and Stained Glass Mosaic

Art glass are basically items produced where glass is used as a purely artistic medium, to produce three dimensional works and sculptures.

The versatility of modern art glass is now vast and some of the effects which can be achieved are stunning. Objects made from this medium range in price from a few hundred pounds (dollars) to several thousand. Many items are now mass produced too be big companies, so owning art glass is really open to everyone.

Some of the techniques used in creating these creative objects are: Fusing, Glass blowing, beadmaking and lampwork.

We shall go through each method and describe what the technique involoves and what effects can be produced using it

1. Fusing

This is where individual quantites of glass and silica are  fired in a kiln to very high temperatures, the effect is to melt the substance until the seperate pieces become permanently bonded to each other creating one solid object where previously there were several.By stacking thin sheets of diffent colours a whole range of beautiful color mixes can be created. Some of the objects created this way include jewellery, tiles, bowls and dishes

2. Glass Blowing

This involves inflating a semi molten bubble of glass on the end of a blowpipe. By blowing into it, rotating and swinging the molten material consistently, a skilled person can create objects such as vases, drinking utensils and all manner of decorative items. The real artistry comes where special effects are incorporated into the object such as bubbles, textures and mixtures of differently colored glass or This is done by using ‘cane’ which are premade rods of coloured glass. By choosing certain colours and tones some beautiful pieces can be made.

3. Beadmaking

The making of glass beads dates back thousands of years, at least back to the Egyptians.There are three types:

Wound beads: This technique involves winding molten glass around a steel mandrel,shaping it into a bead shape. Once the desired shape and cool the bead can be slid off.

Drawn beads: This involves stretching some molten glass within which an air bubble has been placed. As it stretches so does the bubble creating a form of hollow tube. Once cooled this tube can be cut into individual pieces or beads.

Molded beads: As the name implies these are created by pressing the molten material into pre formed templates. Often some sort of aparatus is then used to punch a hole in the material before it cools

4. Lampwork

This is a type of work where a gas fueled torch or lamp is used to melt tubes and rods of clear and coloured glass.Whilst still in a molten shape, it can then be manipulated by shaping and blowing with various hand tools. The lampwork method became popular in the creation of paperweights in France in the Mid 19th Centuary.

5. Stained Glass Mosaic

This involves adhering stained glass mosaic pieces onto clear glass using a clear drying glue. In doing this, light can still pass through the glass allowing for a range of colorful light and color effects.

Many of these items are still very collectable today and it seems likely that high quality glass art items of one sort or another, will remain highly sought after well into the future.