Glass is one of the most well-known materials we have, as it is used in multiple applications, and can be made into many different furniture for home and commercial use. While glass has a crystal-like appearance, it is a non-crystalline stone that is often engineered artificially. Natural glass exists, but the phenomenon is rare and difficult to harvest.
Natural glass forms when molten rocks, such as magma, are cooled abruptly with water. Examples of natural glass include tektite, which is what happens when molten sand is cooled extremely quickly. Meteorites can also form natural glass as they land in bodies of water, and cool fast enough that the composition of the rock is unchanged.
The history of glass dates back to ancient Egyptian times when glass was first used during the time of Thutmose III, around 1450 BC. However, it is widely believed that the Mesopotamians were the first to use the material for vessels and other glass works around 4500 BC.
Glassworks were highly revered in 13th century Italy, with glassmakers perfecting the art of decorative, high-quality, and transparent glass called Venetian Glass. So highly-prized were the skills of glassmakers, that these craftsmen were confined to the Island of Murano, where they could perfect their craft without spilling trade secrets.
This legislation turned Italy into the central hub for high-quality glass, and continues to shape the glassmaking industry in the country today. Nowadays, handmade glassworks are considered a dying art, as less and less glassmakers are inclined to take on the skill. High-grade glass works, such as those of Swarovski Crystals, may be priced as high as diamonds!
True glass has a completely transparent hue, but can be dyed to create shades of any color. Natural glass may have an opacity to it, and would often show up as black due to the molten rocks. Glass would always have a smooth surface, and is very brittle as glass easily shatters upon impact.
Decorative glass pieces can be left transparent, or dyed to the preferred color befitting the design. Glass sculptures are not carved, but instead molded, shaped, and smelted depending on the design. Glass panels may be etched using engraving tools to provide a pleasing contrast between the transparent glass, and the opacity of clouded glass.
Glass furniture would often appear transparent, with blue or seafoam green hues to it. As the stone refracts light, rainbow hues would often bounce off the surface, and light may bend as it goes through the glass.
Glass is smooth - even the fractures in the stone would have a smooth quality to it. However, glass poses a danger when shattered as the fractures would often shatter to sharp points. The shiny look of glass stone can be matted through engraving, or using a matte sealant.
Beneficial Features of Glass
The best quality of glass is its transparency. No other material provides the same transparency as glass, with a pure transparency that can be mistaken for an absent structure. Other transparent materials include crystals, quartz, diamond, and moissanite, but glassmaking has been perfected to remove any impurities that are found in these natural stones.
Glass is also moldable once melted, which is difficult to achieve with crystals like diamond. As glassmaking has been perfected, practically any design or mold can be reflected in the glass. Glass can also be tempered to provide a strengthened structure compared to untempered glass.
Glass is heat-resistant to a certain degree, and can even be used as pots and pans on induction stoves. The clarity of glass allows light to pass through windows, provide a smooth surface for appliance screens, provide a glimpse into containers, and more! Because it can be molded into practically anything, glass is a highly versatile, reusable material.
Uses of Glass
There are probably more uses of glass than its restrictions. Anything from drink glasses to mirrors, and even wigs! Glass can be refined to fit into connection cables, called fiberglass, molded into dinnerware that is safe to eat from, containers to store goods, protective viewing cases for artifacts, windows, countertops, coffee tables, and so much more.
A popular fairytale, Cinderella, makes note of glass slippers - heeled shoes made entirely of glass. A great number of personalities online have attempted to test out the myth of using glass slippers, and while it is possible to walk using glass slippers, there is a great potential for glass to break. Essentially, glass is perfect for homes and furniture that do not get much impact.
Glass can be used for decorative purposes as well, with glass sculptures being popular additions to homes and offices. Most, if not all, households would have a glass item in their home, as the material is relatively inexpensive, common, and typical to use in home fixtures.
Glass is easy to care for: anything can be used to clean glass countertops, tiles, tables, or any other fixture. Glass sinks can be cleaned with corrosive cleaners, hot water, and harsh chemical soap without damaging the material.
The only restriction for glass is any heavy impact on the surface, which will cause cracks, fracturing, and shattering of glass. Avoid using abrasive cleaning implements as well, as these may cause minor scratches on the surface that will make the glass have a clouded appearance.
Glass has a tendency to retain oils and fingerprints, so it is best to use a formulated glass cleaner to clean windows, display shelves, table tops, and more! Otherwise, glass can be cleaned with practically any household cleaning solution.