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Thursday - April 19, 2018

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When looking to purchase glass art, many consumers aren't sure of what to look for in terms of quality. No matter where you purchase your glass art, we hope to be of assistance to you with this information. There are a few things to look for in terms of quality, but above all else- if YOU like it, then it is probably right. But on the details side of things, you will want to pay attention to these aspects with any prospective glasswork.

1.Lead- A Leaded window is when lead came channel is cut to fit between each and every of glass in a window. You can tell if it is a leaded window by looking at the "lines". Do they look like a metal, soldered (welded) wherever it comes together? The soldered joints should look smoothly rounded, with no lumps or pits. A leaded panel should be cemented inside the lead, around each piece, front and back of the window. You might see a "gold lead"- but that is actually brass. Brass can be quite elegant, but sometimes hard to work with on sharp inside curves. Some designs might need to be modified for brass came because of its stiffness.

2.Copper Foil- Copper Foil is made with a copper foil tape, which is wrapped around each and every piece of glass, then soldered together- front and back. Seams should be continuously smooth and rounded, with minimal creases. (There are bound to be a few, simply because of its handmade quality.) The soldering should NOT be flat to the piece. Copper Foil can do great detailed designs, and is most often used in Lamps. Lamps should have even edges all around the bottom, and be level. Colors should reflect the light downward, as any other lampshade would do. Careful attention should be paid to how the light looks "on" and "off"- the best artisans spend many hours in careful glass selection, to give the best possible effect. Sure, there are some less expensive lamps out there, but again, a good stained glass lamp is an investment in art and should be regarded as such.

3.Glass- There are many types of glass out there- from textured clears to hand mixed art glass. Just as you wouldn't expect a jeweler to make an item out of silver, and charge you platinum prices- the same should be said for windows. If it is made with a higher quality glass, then to invest in that quality should be expected. Taste in colour, transparency, and texture are entirely up to you, but check out some of the artist's other work to see if you like their "style" in composition. If you trust their instincts, they can be of great assistance in helping choose your colours and design.

4.Rebar and Zinc Framing- Zinc framing is a sturdier metal frame around the glass panel, and should support the weight of the piece. The larger the size of the panel, the larger (width) of the zinc framing. Some studios will put a thin wood shim inside the hollow of the framing for added durability. Large windows currently made today shouldn't really be framed in Lead, unless an installation circumstance warrants it. Smaller suncatchers and lighter panels can be framed in lead, but if it is much over 12-14 inches in diameter, Zinc would be a better choice. Rebar is a reinforcement metal, attached to the back of a glass panel. It should be placed about every 24" across the whole width of the piece. This will help keep the panel stable, and hopefully minimize the effects of time. (Sagging can occur with the forces of gravity, for example, old antique church windows often show signs of "bowing" from the weight.) Rebar might have to be placed in such a manner that it runs through the design, but with careful planning, a good glass artist can work the rebar in the design in such a way to disguise it whenever possible.

5.Some other Details-There are some things that artists can do to their work, which can add to the value of the piece, such as: gold or silver plating the seam lines, or using a lead-free solder. Food and jewelry pieces should ALWAYS be made with lead-free solder. If you are not sure, or your intention is to use that bowl for your next party- ASK! If they do not know, DON'T CHANCE IT. Lead can seep into foods and be ingested, but lead-free solder is not a problem. Another way artists can dress up their work is with wooden framing, engraved plates with titles and date, dressy hanging hardware, and even signing the piece by engraving the glass. Some artists combine many facets to glassworking all in the same piece, such as painting, fusing, mosaic, and carving- which is discussed further down.

6.Beveling- Beveling is the faceting of plate (thicker) glass to make it prismatic. While they are generally made of clear glass, that is not always the case. Bevels can be stock kits from glass suppliers, or you can opt for something custom made. Custom bevels are wonderful, and can be a substantial investment. Bevels allow lots of light to pass through the window, and if designed well, they can add some privacy as well. Stock bevels can be used creatively to get the custom bevel "look" without the custom bevel price, so it is a good idea to ask if the beveled piece you are looking at is custom or stock. Stock bevels tend to be regular shapes: Circles, Squares, Triangles, Diamonds, Ovals, Rectangles, and various sized faceted jewels. Mostly used in the Victorian Era for their beauty, jewels can brighten even the most simple design into something spectacular.

7.Sandblasting, Sand Carving, Etching- Sandblasting and carving is made from cutting one stencil to multiple stencils and blasting the glass with sharp sand. It gives a frosted textured look, and multiple carving will almost give a three dimensional look. Another type of etching is with an acid. A stencil is cut, and a chemical acid is painted onto the exposed glass, creating a permanent lightly frosted etch. This can add some very intricate and innovative looks to your overall design!

8.Painting- Painting on glass is a centuries-old tradition, from mixing powdered pigments into a clove oil base, which must be fired for permanency. Sometimes multiple paintings and firings are needed for the right look. Another form of glass painting, is with more modern day enamels. Painting on glass can add greater depth to the glass color, or even the tiniest of details to faces and hands of a piece.

9.Fused Glass- Fused glass are pieces that are fired in a kiln at high temperatures, basically melting the glass to a desired effect. Not only can you create dimension and intricate facial features with paints, but with new techniques in glass fusion, small particles of glass powder can be used to "paint" on glass for new and exciting looks. Fusing glass with frit (small glass particles) and Confetti (small glass wafers) can add highlights and shadows for a more realistic effect. Fused glass pieces should have little to no kiln wash (releasing powder) on the back, and no sharp corners. If there were sharp corners in the firing, they should have been ground or filed off for safety.

10.Blown Glass- Blown glass is the process of melting cullet (base glass) into a furnace, creating everything from glass sculptures to vessels of various kinds. Blown glass work often requires more than one person: from the gathering, shaping, actual blowing through the pipe, to the cut and releasing. Blown glass should not have black smears inside the glass, or unmelted cullet called "rocks". Blown glass can have a wide variety of decorative styles added into, onto, around and within- and has some of the greatest possibilities within glassworking as a whole! :)

11.Lampworking- Lampworking is the process of melting glass pieces or rods into a flaming torch. This is often referred to as "Glass Menagerie" with lacy, delicate strings of flowing glass is wound openly to create sculptures. Lampworking is the most common form of beadmaking, melting glass rods around a mandrel.(Powder coated wire with a handle.) While the beads are being formed, decorations and shaping are added, then the bead is cooled progressively. Some glass sculptures and beads can take many hours to create, and the more detail and decorated, the investment will be higher. Lampworking is like miniature glass blowing. Most of the same principles are used, and great detail can be achieved.

12.Mosaics- Mosaic glass is the grouting of glass pieces as though they were tiles. When looking for quality mosaics, a strong foundational adhesive is key if it is stuck to a glass surface. Also as important, is the grout around the glass. Both should not crumble to the touch, and come as even as possible to the edges of the pieces. One important thing to look for is that the artisan used "sanded" grout, for durability and strength. It can also be custom colored with pigments, and the grout is readily available at hardware stores like Home Depot.

We hope that this information will be of some help to you, and if you have questions about glass, feel free to drop us an EMAIL

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Lead- Clean solder at the joints of the lead.
Brass came needs gold paint over the soldered joints.

Smooth, rounded lines of solder- front and back.

Rich handmixed glass was used for this lamp, careful glass placement is what makes the difference in quality!

This isn't the most expensive glass out there, but it is nice.

This is glass mixed by hand- note all the flecks of colour throughout for a "painting" effect.

This is a sample of the metal (zinc) framing. Bigger windows should have wider framing for support.

Custom beveling adds a unique touch, and is an excellent investment. Stock bevels are also beautiful and add some privacy.

An example of a faceted jewel. Most often seen in Victorian styles, but certainly not limited to it.

Sandblasting on a mirror adds an elegant effect.

This is Wheelcarving- the glass is touched to a spinning diamond wheel, carving into the glass surface. This can be tedious work, but the results are very lovely!

Acid etching is quick and easy!

This paintwork was applied with a needle. Then it is fired on for permanency. While very time consuming, it is the most chosen and sought after form of glass painting even today.

Deka paints are air-dry, and offer an easy way to paint on glass. This is not a permanent paint.

Delta PermEnamel paints are air-dry, but also permanent. This was run through the dishwasher, and it still looks like new.

A dichroic fused barette. This fused dish was first layered in glass, then fired. Next, another fuse in a dish mold to give it the shape.

An example of different types of blown objects.

Blown glass bowl with goldstone frit added takes careful planning and coordination in the blowing process.

Here are some "rocks" in this blown rondel.  Rocks make blemishes in the glass piece, and are not considered to be "quality" work.

This necklace features fused bead collar pieces, and lampworked accent beads made on a torch.

Another example of lampworked beads.

This has lampworked and Furnace glass beads in it. Furnace glass beads are made in long pulled strings of glass with hollow centres, then sliced up, and put in a kiln to anneal and smooth out.

This mosaic tile probably isn't the best quality example, but the grout is the "sanded" grout- and perfect or not, this tile will last a long time.

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