Glass is a solid material that is usually transparent or translucent as well as hard and brittle.
From tiny beads to large sculptures, and from ordinary bottles to sophisticated lenses and optical fibers, the multiple uses of glass have transformed our world.
Glass is made from liquid sand. It can be made by heating ordinary sand (which is mostly made of silicon dioxide also known as silica) until it melts and turns into a liquid. Sand melts at the incredibly high temperature of 1700 °C (3090 °F). After the melted sand cools back down, the result is glass.
Glass has been considered a valuable material since early in human history.
During the Stone Age, flint knappers used obsidian, a naturally occurring glass, to make extremely sharp knives. Natural glasses were formed in the Earth’s crust or in meteorites or lunar rocks.
In addition, in early civilizations, small pieces of colored glass often rivaled precious gems as jewelry items. With the passage of time, it was discovered that if glass is heated until it becomes semi-liquid, it could be shaped and left to cool in a new, solid, independently standing shape.
Instructions to make glass were first documented in Egypt around 1500 BC, when glass was used as a glaze for ceramic items before they were fired.
In the 1st century BC, the technique of blowing glass was developed, and what had once been an extremely rare and valuable item became much more common. At the time of the Roman Empire, many forms of glass were created, usually for vases and bottles. The glass was made from sand, plant ash, and lime (calcium oxide).
In 1000 AD, the Egyptian city of Alexandria was the most important center of glass manufacture.
By the time of Crusades, glass manufacturing was developed in Venice and it became glassmaking center of the western world.
Bohemian glass, or Bohemia crystal, is a decorative glass produced in regions of Bohemia and Silesia, now in the current state of the Czech Republic, since the 13th century. It has a centuries long history of being internationally recognised for its high quality, craftsmanship, beauty and often innovative designs.
Throughout Europe the miraculous art of making stained glass on churches and cathedrals across the continent reached its height in the finest Chatres and Conterbury cathedral windows produced in the 13th and 14th centuries.
Early in the 17th century, the first window glass was manufactured in Britain. It was broadsheet glass, a lengthy balloon of glass that was blown, and then both ends of the glass were removed, leaving a cylinder to be split and flattened.
The Art Nouveau movement made great use of glass, with René Lalique, Émile Gallé, and Daum of Nancy producing colored vases and similar pieces, often in cameo glass, and also using luster techniques. Louis Comfort Tiffany in America specialized in stained glass, both secular and religious, and his famous lamps.
Tiffany glass refers to the many and varied types of glass developed and produced from 1878 to 1933 at the Tiffany Studios in New York, by Louis Comfort Tiffany and a team of other designers, including Frederick Wilson and Clara Driscoll.
The largest glass sculpture measures 9 by 20 meters (29 ft 6 in by 65 ft 7 in) and was created by Dale Chihuly at the Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, on 15 October 1998. The structure is a representation of Italian Fields in the spring and has more than 2,000 flowers. The entire structure weighs over 18,000 kilograms (40,000 pounds).
Bertil Vallien is internationally acclaimed for his sand-casted sculptural glass boats. The three-meter-long ship is the most expensive glass sculpture ever produced at Kosta Boda and thus got the nickname “One-million-dollar boat.” The boat depicts the mythology of world history, from birth to death. It floats over a forged landscape with glass details. A stand with protective glazing encloses the artwork. Mirrors at both ends of the stand create an endless optical illusion. The artwork was exhibited in 2016 on “Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design,” one of the world’s largest art fairs in Chicago.
The Sun is the artwork by Dale Chihuly. Resembling a tree-sunburst hybrid, the installation consists of over 1,300 hand glass-blown elements that are expertly woven together to form a coherent whole. The piece really comes alive in a darkened space indoors or in the evening outdoors, when light is shone through it to produce a breathtaking spectacle of bold colour.
Cold glass artist Jack Storms takes this universally approachable form, the cube, to the next level. The Spectrum Cube features six optical lenses and architectural colored glass lines the core of the piece making it a cube sculpture like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The optical lenses are optional in this piece but allow you to see the core in magnified angles. The Spectrum Cube refracts, reflects and casts colored shadows.
Symbolizing the sun and sky, the skylight of the Palau de la Música Catalana is a three-dimensional masterpiece that is accented by the stained-glass windows set in arches that line both sides of the main concert hall. The skylight drops away from the ceiling in an inverted bell and is deeply pigmented in shades of gold and blue.
Designed by master of modernisme Antoni Gaudí in the late 19th century, La Sagrada Família is one of Barcelona’s most famous destinations. On top of its whimsical towers and mesmerizing mosaics, the ever-growing church is known for its fantastic stained glass windows. Capturing the “expressivity and grandeur” of Gaudí’s vision, the multicolor windows range in shape and color scheme, making the basilica’s avant-garde interior even more eye-catching.
The most glass bottles blown over in one minute is 34 and was achieved by Deng Jun (China) on the set of CCTV – Guinness World Records Special in Beijing, China on 14 January 2016.
When glass breaks, the cracks move at speeds of up to 4,800 kilometers (3,000 miles) per hour.
Glass can be recycled over and over. Glass bottles and jars can easily be recycled to make new glass bottles and jars or used in industry as aggregate (building material) or sand.
However, it is shockingly if glass is thrown away in landfills, it takes a million years to decompose. According to some sources, sometimes it does not decompose at all.