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Getting To Know Glass Art

Fans of glass art are called glass enthusiasts or boro-heads.  But a greyer question is: what categorizes glass art?  Can pipes be considered “art?”  The answer, of course, is yes!  Glassblowing is a craft to be mastered, and glass art is a beautiful medium for self-expression.  Glass with a purpose, like glass pipes, are called functional glass.  There are a few common artist techniques that crossover both decorative glass art and functional glass art.  These techniques range from using different metal alloys to stretching and moving glass like dough.


Techniques for the Glass Artist

Glass artists generally start off with canes, which are long rods of clear and colored glass that can be melted down and reformed.  Sometimes glass artists can pour the melted glass into a cast if they are looking to get a certain shape or design.  When two canes are melted and then pushed together, this is called a maria.  Sometimes glass artists use other materials on their glass.  Sandblasting is when an artist will use a machine to blow sand on the surface of the glass at a high velocity, shaving off the top layer and creating a textured surface.  When an artist fuses a metal alloy to glass, this is called electroforming.  


Color Working On Glass

There are many techniques in glassblowing that involve coloring glass.  One of the most common color working techniques on functional glass is fuming.  Fuming glass involves holding a piece of silver or gold up to a flame and allowing the vapors of the metal to color the piece.  Silver fuming usually creates bluish tones, while gold fuming creates pinkish tones.  Fritting is another common techniques that involves using flecks of crushed colored glass to color another tone of glass.  When an artist takes applied color and rakes it across a piece of glass, this is called raking.  Dichro is when a glass artist uses a metallic coating to give glass a sparkle or shine.  A more involved coloring process is called implosion.  Implosion involves taking colors and pushing or pulling them through the glass to create a 3-D floral effect.  This is common on marbles.


Common Glass Patterns

There are a few notable patterns that are recurringly found on functional glass.  Encalmo and basket weaving are two common ones.  Encalmo uses thick stripes, whereas basket weaving weaves color in-and-out in a traditional basket style.  A more advanced but quite popular design is wig wag, which uses a color tube to create colorful spiral designs commonly found on functional glass.  An extremely advanced pattern is the reticello pattern, which takes rods of glass and criss-crosses them into a kaleidoscope pattern.  This is common on pendants and beaker bases, but is very time consuming and is usually reserved for headier pieces.


Smoke Cartel stocks pipes of all colors and patterns!  No matter what you are looking for, you can find it while browsing our site of local glass art.  Smoke Cartel supports all glass artists, and we hope that you find the perfect piece to keep your smoker heart beating!

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