We get lots of questions about glass in the studio, so I thought we might provide some info to help you understand “Why it is our material of choice”!
Is Glass human-made or natural?
When most people think of glass, they think of it as a human-made object. But glass forms in nature also:
- Silicic volcanoes spew molten rock, which cools rapidly and is called obsidian.
- Lightning strikes quartz-rich desert or beach sands, forming brittle tubes of melted sand that form fulgurites.
- Meteors fly through the earth’s atmosphere and impact the ground with intense heat, forming terrestrial debris, which cools quickly and is called tektites.
- Silicious skeletons of marine creatures (algae, sea sponges) are shed onto the oceanic floor and form natural glass.
Glass is all around us. Think about it. What would our world be without glass? It
- It helps us control the temperature of our surroundings.
- Aids our vision.
- Facilitates communication through fiber optic cables.
- Is in packaging and tableware.
- Helps express our identity in the form of art.
- What does glass not do? Its applications are endless.
State of Matter
For us, glass is a state of mind, but it is a state of matter in reality. It is created when molten material cools so rapidly that there is not enough time to form a crystalline structure. In solids, atoms arrange themselves in ordered lattice-like structures. Atoms and molecules move randomly or flow in liquids. The final cooled glass forms have rigid atoms – they cannot flow and are not in lattices. Glass is called a rigid liquid.
Most people think of glass as a solid. It’s fun to expose people to it in its more liquid form. When we work with it in the hot shop, it is kinetic, it flows, it expands, it contracts, and it dances with us. Glass is beautiful in its clear state, where you can take advantage of its optical qualities, and with it is fascinating when it takes on color. It is fantastic to play material. You can make it into one form. If you don’t like it, you can remelt it and form it into something else.
- Glass is ambiguous. It can last for thousands of years or shatter in an instant.
- The art made from glass reflects the personalities of those working on it.
Michael’s joy is exploring his love for different forms and different colors. Patrick focuses on patterns and the repetition of elements, probably due to his strong musical background. Glass is attractive to me as a scientist because it is process-oriented when you work it logically.
Once you become competent at the steps and make the primary forms, you can recombine them and make glass follow your lead. I look at boundaries to go beyond and mimic geological concepts, like a kid with a chemistry set and no instruction manual. I try to use everything, my background and my knowledge while exploiting all the resources at hand.
Without glass, how would we recognize ourselves? Its reflectivity allows us to see ourselves as we genuinely are. Or maybe not.