Glass art

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Roman era millefiori style glass cup from Emona (present Ljubljana) grave.

Glass art refers to individual works of art that are substantially or wholly made of glass. It ranges in size from monumental works and installation pieces, to wall hangings and windows, to works of art made in studios and factories, including glass jewelry and tableware.

Glass fashion[edit]


Imperfect for You, knitted glass by Carol Milne

The first uses of glass were in beads and other small pieces of jewelry and decoration. Beads and jewelry are still among the most common uses of glass in art, and can be worked without a furnace.

It later became fashionable to wear functional jewelry with glass elements, such as pocketwatches and monocles.

Wearables and couture[edit]

Starting in the late 20th century, glass couture refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing made from sculpted glass. These are made to order for the body of the wearer. They are partly or entirely made of glass with extreme attention to fit and flexibility. The result is usually delicate, and not intended for regular use.[citation needed]

Glass vessels[edit]

Some of the earliest and most practical works of glass art were glass vessels. Goblets and pitchers were popular as glassblowing developed as an art form. Many early methods of etching, painting, and forming glass were honed on these vessels. For instance the millefiori technique dates back at least to Rome. More recently, lead glass or crystal glass were used to make vessels that rang like a bell when struck.

In the 20th century, mass produced glass work including artistic glass vessels were sometimes known as factory glass.

Glass architecture[edit]

Stained glass windows[edit]

Starting in the Middle Ages, glass became more widely produced, and used for windows in buildings. Stained glass became common for windows in cathedrals and grand civic buildings.

Glass facades and structural glass[edit]

The invention of plate glass and the Bessemer process allowed for glass to be used in larger segments, to support more structural loads, and to be produced at larger scales. A striking example of this was the Crystal Palace in 1851, one of the first buildings to use glass as a primary structural material.

In the 20th century, glass became used for tables and shelves, for internal walls, and even for floors.

Glass sculptures[edit]

Chihuly sculpture, Kew Gardens

Some of the best known glass sculptures are statuesque or monumental structures such as the statues by Livio Seguso, or by Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová. Another example is René Roubícek's "Object" 1960, a blown and hot-worked piece of 52.2 cm (20.6 in)[1] shown at the "Design in an Age of Adversity" exhibition at the Corning Museum of Glass in 2005.[2]

Art glass and the studio glass movement[edit]

In the early 20th century, most glass production happened in factories. Even individual glassblowers making their own personalized designs would do their work in those large shared buildings. The idea of "art glass", small decorative works made of art, often with designs or objects inside, flourished. Pieces produced in small production runs, such as the Lampwork figures of Stanislav Brychta, are generally called art glass.

By the 1970s, there were good designs for smaller furnaces, and in the United States this gave rise to the "studio glass" movement of glassblowers who blew their glass outside of factories, often in their own studios. This coincided with a move towards smaller production runs of particular styles. This movement spread to other parts of the world as well.

Examples of 20th century studio glass:

Glass panels[edit]

Water Walk by Paul Housberg

Combining many of the above techniques, but focusing on art represented in the glass rather than its shape, glass panels or walls can reach tremendous sizes. These may be installed as walls or on top of walls, or hung from a ceiling. Large panels can be found as part of outdoor installation pieces or for interior use. Dedicated lighting is often part of the artwork.

Techniques used include stained glass, carving (wheel carving, engraving, or acid etching), frosting, enameling, and gilding (including Angel gilding). An artist may combine techniques through masking or silkscreening. Glass panels or walls may also be complemented by running water or dynamic lights.

Techniques and processes[edit]

Knitted and felted glass[edit]

Knitted glass is a technique developed in 2006 by artist Carol Milne, incorporating knitting, lost-wax casting, mold-making, and kiln-casting. It produces works that look knitted, though they are made entirely of glass.

Chinese artists Zhengcui Guo and Peng Yi premiered a technique of felted glass or "glelting", with positive critical reviews, at the 2015 Ha You Arts Festival.[3]

G3DP printing process

Glass printing[edit]

In 2015, the Mediated Matter group and Glass Lab at MIT produced a prototype 3D printer that could print with glass, through their G3DP project. This printer allowed creators to vary optical properties and thickness of their pieces. The first works that they printed were a series of artistic vessels, which which were included in the Cooper Hewitt's Beauty exhibit in 2016.

Glass printing is theoretically possible at large and small physical scales, and has the capacity for mass production. However as of 2016 production still requires hand-tuning, and has mainly been used for one-off sculptures.

Pattern making[edit]

Methods to make patterns on glass include caneworking such as murrine, engraving, enameling, millefiori, flamework, and gilding.

Methods used to combine glass elements and work glass into final forms include lampworking.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "René Roubícek". The Corning Museum of Glass. The Corning Museum of Glass. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Czech Glass: Design in an Age of Adversity 1945-1980". The Corning Museum of Glass. The Corning Museum of Glass. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Beijing Design Week: Ha You Arts Festival". Beijing Design Week. Beijing Design Week. Retrieved 27 September 2015.