FACT : Introduction to Colored Glass

It’s time for some more FACTs! This week we are discussing colored glass and how it came to be, just how does one create color? It’s actually a very fascinating process that has been utilized for centuries by different civilizations. Let’s take a closer look.

Introduction to Colored Glass

Coloring glass was very experimental in it’s early years. Dating back to ancient times, the Phoenicians and Egyptians crafted vases using black colored glass. Not until the 8th century when a Persian chemist by the name of Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan, began researching formulas to color glass to specific colors. This is what eventually earned him the name, “the Father of Chemistry”.

By adding metals, metal oxides, and minerals, we are able to develop a variety of glass in different colors. And even though the famed chemist discovered these recipes to color glass, it was very expensive and extremely limited on color choices.

Jumping forward a few centuries, in 1608 the first glass factory was built in Jamestown, Virginia. But it still wasn’t until the the early 1990’s that colored glass was made affordable and accessible. Glass manufacturers like Northstar Glass and Glass Alchemy made it possible for the glass industry to grow as fast as it did by creating new and exciting colors. They continued to push the bar by providing more and more new colors and even experimental techniques, such as “striking colors” like Amber Purple. What’s cool about striking colors are they change color hue based on temperature of annealing the glass in the kiln.

Prior to these aforementioned glass manufacturing pioneers, flame workers were blending and mixing their own desired colors. Quite the process. Some artists to this day customize and create their own unique colors, such as Shane Smith and Hatchet Glass.

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