Home Decorating – Bubble Glass

Glass is a naturally occurring noncorrosive, semiopaque substance fused by the heat of volcanic eruptions or lightning strikes. It is believed to be accidentally discovered by humans around 5000BC when Phoenician merchants, while feasting on a beach, could find no stones on which to place their cooking pots. They set them on blocks of soda carried by their ship as cargo. The soda blocks, melted by the heat of the fire, mixed with the sand and turned into molted glass. The intentional glass making involves precisely the same recipe: heat, sand and soda ash.

The mysterious physical and aesthetic properties of glass have always intrigued men. From the time of its discovery to the invention of the blowing pipe and to the emergence of the automated glass blowing machine, glass has become inexpensive and widely available. Yet this solid material, which has the random atomic arrangement of liquid that is sort of frozen into permanent substance, continues to fascinate even the most sophisticated modern men when it’s transformed into the most vivid forms from nothing but coarse sand and soda ash. While commercial glass production has undergone a tremendous evolution, the art glass creation remains a closely guarded craft. The glass blowing techniques have not changed much in centuries and are passed on from generation to generation of glass makers. The result is inspiration and skill melted into each piece created by the human hand.

Some truly distinctive glass pieces are created by an assembly of Czech glass artists at the Beranek factory situated in the heart of the Highlands, on the border between Bohemia and Moravia. These extraordinary glassworks began in 1940 with Emanuel Beranek who made his original glass in the most primitive conditions. At the time when most of the hand-made glass producers used generator gas heated furnaces, Beranek and his three brothers used peat for heating. Glass products were cut on a crank-brace and bits of bottle glass mixed with charcoal were used as raw materials. These harsh conditions undoubtedly put limits on the production assortment, but at the same time they forced the artists to experiment with glass. Most of the experimental outputs were techniques, which combined with advancing technology, eventually resulted in a variety of the most innovative ideas in glassmaking. One example is the bubble glass. Emanuel Beranek found the way to turn the original glass flaw into a magnificent artistic intricacy.

The air bubbles of the most vivid shapes and sizes are intentionally forced into the glass only where they belong according to the original design of each piece. Under any bright light, these bubbles produce an unforgettable effect. The light reflects in every bubble and bounces Reduce Blue Light back resulting in a soft surrounding glow adding an ultra futuristic tone to any environment. Since its creation, the bubble glass has found admirers throughout the world.

See some examples of bubble glass:

1. Blue Bble Glass Vaseub

2. Bubble Top Glass Vase

Since the very beginning, Beranek glassworks stood apart from the commonplace glass production. As the time went on, more and more glass designers and experts joined in the creation of these glass marvels. Today, there are 60+ world-class glass artists who focus solely on the design and production of contemporary glass decorative objects. Among them are glass vases, glass spheres, and decorative glass platters. This is designer glass par excellence. All items are hand made, most of them are hot-shaped without the use of moulds. Each piece reflects the successful synergy of the old-fashioned glass making techniques and the most unique concepts of modern glass design, which bring to its owner great beauty and delight.

Most items are made of the traditional soda-potash glass – it is shaped into its final form and decorated while it is still in its molten state right by the furnace. The furnace is the heart of the glasswork.

The work on the following day’s melt begins in the afternoon, towards the end of the working day. The homogeneity and transparency of the fine blown glass are dependent upon the purity of raw inputs and glass-melting methods, that is the ability to reach furnace temperatures over 1450 °C. This temperature is easily reached through fuelling by natural gas, which also permits a working cycle of 24 hours. The mixture of raw materials is loaded into the pots two or three times on any given day. The first load goes in at about 3 pm, at the temperature of 1350 °C to 1400°C. The last usually goes in at 10 pm. The temperature is raised to 1450 °C to drive any air bubbles out of the liquid and to let the glass become pure and homogeneous.

The entire process is completed at about 2 am and the temperature is lowered to 1350 – 1280 °C. When the glassmakers arrive at approximately 4:30 am, the glass is ready to be worked. It now has the viscosity necessary for working. It is now that the unshapely chemical compound will become a marvelous piece that will travel many miles, beautify homes throughout the world, perhaps even make someone’s day better, and on a grand scale, become part of the human history. All of this is at the hands of a skilled glassmaker whose personal touch and part of his being will live with each piece for years to come. Most pieces are blown using the flying-hand technique at the working temperature of about 1250 °C. The finished products are carried into electrical cooling furnaces which are pre-set to follow a 48-hour cooling curve to insure a perfect resistance of product against cracking.

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