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Color Changing Glass

Color changing glass is one of the most popular styles of glass art. Most people that have
had or used color changing glass pipes in the last 35 years have been mesmerized by the beautiful colors we can get to appear out of seemingly nothing. So how is this done? Well I shouldn’t be telling you this, but it’s magic. There it is; the secret is out. Of course I am kidding, sorry. What the ‘color changing’ effect is; is actually a hue created by a light fume or haze either inside or on the surface of the glass. Now the next question typically is, well so where does the ‘fume’ come from? Is it apart of the glass? No, it is actually added by the glassblower while working on the piece. The fume is actually a result of metal being
heated to such an extreme temperature that it turns to a gas and sticks to the glass, then baked in so it
can’t come off. Some may wonder how this was figured out. There are some ancient stories of a priest
in the Vatican accidentally dropping his gold cross in a vat of clear glass and turning it all to a pinkish red,
but that is folklore. Another story is of Bob Snodgrass, as he explained in ‘Degenerative Art’, accidentally
picking up a piece of silver on a stick of glass while he was working and this resulted in coating the entire
piece in silver fume. He thought he ruined the piece until the next day his friend that he gave the piece
to came back and showed him the amazing colors that were appearing.

That changes the perspective on things a little bit if you think about it. Now the next question is
generally, what kinds of metals do we use? Well, this depends on the hues being created. Have you
seen the yellowish almost white pieces that turn to a variety of blues? These colors can be reached
using pure silver, only .999 will work. Then there are those beautiful pieces that start out almost
pinkish, these are the ones that change to a mesmerizing variety of colors from pinks to greens to
purples and generally have some tremendous depth. These are created using gold. Not just any gold,
24k. There cannot be any impurities or the fume will not stick. A little known fact about gold is that
American gold standards aren’t actually as high as other places in the world. What this means for
glassblowers is that they have to be sure to purchase true bullion in order to get only the purest gold.
No a gold ring or necklace doesn’t work. Not only does the impure gold not stick to the glass, or create
the wonderful colors, but it is dangerous to mess with some of the alloys in less than pure metals. So I
hope this explains some of why we ask for the prices we do, we are using some expensive materials to
create the effects all of you love so much. And next time you see a piece spread the knowledge, not
only will you look cool being so knowledgeable, but you will also be protecting the livelihood of one the
most special trades in the worlds history. Maybe we can dive into some of the history of glass at some
time, about how it was an even more secret craft then the free masons, but that will be another time.
Hope this helps! And you have a wonderful sesh. Be sure to mention to your friends who shared some
knowledge. Spread the word of the sweet online headshop GeorgiaGlassWorks that you found, and
that Krispy from Instagram: @krispysglass is sharing some knowledge here too, look forward to our next
chat!



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