The Science Of Glass

27th May 2015

Here’s a great podcast for you my fellow glass painters. But art is not the subject here. Nor is it craft. No, this time it’s science.

The episode begins with a brief discussion of the history of glass e.g.

  • The Ancient Egyptians who originally made beads and jewellery
  • The Romans who introduced glass works across their Empire
  • The Venetians who discovered (amongst many other facts) that adding manganese oxide made glass clearer.

And then the main focus becomes both fascinating and more technical e.g.

  • Glass is a “disordered” substance with an often ill-defined transition from liquid to solid
  • Transparency results from disorder i.e. disorder is necessary for transparency
  • Colour results from (technical) “impurities”.
Myself, I took comfort from the observation that annealing is a strange phenomenon – even to scientists … You take this material (glass), and hold it at a certain temperature, and, just by holding it, you change some of its fundamental properties.

The discussion jumps around a lot. But stick with it and you’re bound to hear some fascinating scientific facts about this gorgeous material on which we paint.

Love Them Starry Skies

Stained Glass at Night

Or: “Daddy, why is it ever dark?”

It’s a wonderful, heart-lifting sight to espy a church at night, its windows glowing from the light within.

But you must be outside with darkness all around you for this to work.

Otherwise of course the stained glass windows are dull and lifeless.

I say “of course”.

But it still upsets my friend, a successful novelist, who now knows better.

Does Old Glass Sag At The Bottom?

Or: “The Tale of the Stained Glass Designer and the Naked Scientist”

"Not the BBC again!?!"

“Not the BBC again!?!”

Here’s what happened …

David and I were working away, minding our own business, and finishing off the fourth set of brand-new windows that we’ve been making for a mansion on the shores of Lake Geneva, when the phone rang.

It was the BBC.

A radio producer wanted to know if old glass was thicker at the bottom.

The reason is, glass has a name for being a “super-cooled liquid” (just as Williams & Byrne has a reputation for being a super-cool stained glass design studio.)