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What is Dichroic Glass

What is Glass Cold Work and Dichroic Glass?

The brilliant dichroic optical properties of dichroic glass are the result of multiple micro-layers of metal oxides. These thin layers of oxides have a total thickness of three to five millionths of an inch.

NASA developed dichroic glass for use in face shields in space suits. Multiple ultra-thin layers of different metals (gold, silver, titanium, chromium, aluminium, zirconium, magnesium, silicon) are applied to the surface of the glass. The glass is then kiln fired at extreme temperatures in a vacuum.

The resulting plate of dichroic glass can then be fused with other glass in multiple firings. Certain wavelengths of light will either pass through or be reflected, causing an array of colour to be visible. Due to variations in the firing process, individual results can never be exactly reproduced; each piece of fused dichroic glass is unique and no two pieces are ever the same.

Cold work includes traditional stained glass work as well as other methods of shaping glass at room temperature. Glass can also be cut with a diamond saw, or copper wheels embedded with abrasives, and polished to give gleaming facets; the technique used in creating waterford crystal. Art is sometimes etched into glass via the use of acid, caustic, or abrasive substances. Traditionally this was done after the glass was blown or cast. In the 1920s a new mould-etch process was invented, in which art was etched directly into the mould, so that each cast piece emerged from the mould with the image already on the surface of the glass. This reduced manufacturing costs and, combined with a wider use of colored glass, led to cheap glassware in the 1930s, which later became known as Depression glass. As the types of acids used in this process are extremely hazardous, abrasive methods have gained popularity*

Lampworked beads (with the exception of Asian and African beadmaking) have pretty much strictly been the provenance of Italian, and, later, Bohemian lampworkers for the last four hundred years or so who kept the techniques secret. Thirty or so years ago, some American artists started experimenting with the form. Their early efforts, by today's standards, were crude-not surprising when there was almost no documentation, and none of the modern tools. However, they shared their information, and some of them started small businesses developing tools, torches and other equipment. The "stump shaper" a popular shaped paddle, is named after Loren Stump, for example.

This group eventually formed basis for the Society of Glass Beadmakers, which recently changed its name to the International Society of Glass Beadmakers. Techniques diffused through the population, via early books such as Cindy Jenkins' You can make Glass Beads; the ISGB's annual conference and their online forum; and just generally the philosophy of sharing ideas, tips and techniques. This philosophy continues to permeate the glass beadmaking world today, resulting in a huge diversity of approaches, styles and beads.*

Beads can be sandblasted; they can be faceted, using lapidary techniques. "Furnace glass" beads, more elaborate versions of the old seed bead technique described above, are also being made. Chevron beads are multi-layer beads once exclusively made using hot-shop techniques to produce the original tubing; but now some lampworkers make similar designs on their torches (using borosilicate,--Kevin O'Grady, demonstration, 2004 Gathering) before lapping the ends to reveal the various layered colors. It should be noted that as torches get bigger and more powerful, the cross-over between lampworking and furnace glass continues to increase.*

*From Wikipedia