Glass Making Techniques Part 2 | Engraving & The Mechanical Press

While back painted glass is definitely one of the most modern uses & incarnations of glass, the creation & manipulation of glass has been around for thousands of years. Over then next few weeks we’ll be going over some of the techniques used by through out history to create this beautiful material we know as glass.
Welcome to the second part of our glass making technique series. In our last part we covered the main methods used to create glass for thousands of years. During these years engraving techniques were developed that allowed for the elaborate decoration of artisan made glass. Through the use of hand held metal or stone wheel tools often tipped with diamond or copper textures & designs would be made by grinding & cutting into the glass. An artistic technique called stippling, which through the use of dots could add shading & patterns was also used.  In order to create the patterns a diamond tipped tool would need to be tapped on the glass hundreds if not thousands of times, making it quite a labor intensive process.

As glass making made it’s way into the 1800s an era known for the revolution of industry, a new technique & tool came about that require very little skill from those making glass object. This tool was the mechanical press & it improved upon the idea set forth by casting. By creating a template pattern made out of iron or bronze hot or molten glass could simply be placed in this mold the press would be closed & as the glass cooled it would take the form of the template pattern. This technique made it possible for unskilled laborers to create beautiful glass items. Unfortunately this method wasn’t perfect as deformates could often be seen in the finished product. To combat this, initial mechanical presses required very intricate patterns which hid this imperfections in the glass. Fortunately by the mid 1800s this became less of a problem & simpler patterns could be used. The mechanical press helped pave the way for modern manufacturing glass techniques.

Be sure to check back next week for more information & if you’d like to learn more about glass be sure to check out the resources available at the Corning Musem of Glass & The British Museum.

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