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The History Of Glass In Architecture

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Glass was discovered, seemingly by accident, nearly 4000 years ago and has since evolved into one of our most used and most revered materials. It was only 2000 years ago that the manufacturing of glass progressed to being able to create sheets strong enough to be used as windows and architectural features. Today glass is used in everything from revolving doors to skywalks and interior partitions and is one of our most striking architectural materials with a fascinating history.
Glass In Architecture

The Beginnings of Glass in Architecture

When glass was first used in architecture and construction, the limitations of masonry and weaker building materials meant that its prominence was restricted to small windows. With developments in construction, this began to change and by the Medieval Era glass started to be used as more of a decorative feature than simply a way to let light in. The trend for tall, stone Gothic churches facilitated the use of elaborate glass windows made up from fragments of coloured glass and depicting striking biblical scenes. These windows related the stories of the bible to an illiterate populace and spurned the architectural trend of searching for transparency, luminosity and weightlessness through glass.

The Next Big Step in Glass

It wasn’t until the 19th century that glass in architecture took its next significant step forward. Before this time, the manufacturing process itself restricted the use of glass to only small sheets, which is illustrated in the prominent use of cottage pane glass and intricately divided windows in 18th century architecture.

The introduction of iron and other materials during this time meant that glass could take on a whole new role in architecture. Thanks to the materials now existing to hold it in place, coupled with the new ability to mass produce large sheets, the possibilities for the use of glass in construction became nearly limitless. Architects began to experiment with things like conservatories and entire walls of glass that were held together by high trussed steel arches and finger fixings. The Crystal Palace constructed in 1851 represents the most ambitious glass architectural projects of its time – a construction made up of 300 000 sheets of glass.

Glass in Architecture in the 20th Century

Architects use of glass continued to evolve throughout the 20th century although most of the larger, ambitious projects were confined to large office buildings with massive budgets. The idea of transparency and dematerialisation was dominant during this time and architects the world over tried to use glass to create ‘honest’ buildings that focussed on a sense of light and space. One of the biggest changes during these years was the move away from seeing glass as only the material for the openings within a structure, but rather as the material for the structure itself. Glass skins became the challenge to tackle whereby a thin steel structure literally supported skyscrapers of full glass walls.
The Fagus Factory in Germany was one of the first buildings to employ this technique. This urban shoe factory was designed by Walter Gropius in 1911 and used a thin steel structure to hold up a full glass fa├žade to meet the client’s brief of an attractive outlook.
One of the greatest feats in glass architecture in this century is the new Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan which is set to open its doors to the public in early 2009. The steel sphere of the planetarium is an 87-foot structure which can accommodate 585 people. What’s so breathtaking is that is seems to float in the centre of a breathtaking glass cube.

Using glass in architecture has certainly come a long way from its start. As structures like the Hayden Planetarium are constructed, limitations fall away and glass architecture takes on a life of its own.

Glass in Architecture Today

Constant innovations in glass and building materials continue to increase the possibilities for the use of glass in architecture and today have resulted in some of the most spectacular buildings imaginable. Lightweight, strong plastics, new cladding materials and fixing technologies have allowed for even more experimentation with glass and has enabled architects to translate many of these styles to work in the domestic environment and not only in corporate skyscrapers. Other innovations in glass have also enabled it to become less of a building material and more of a design feature in homes across the globe. Glass is now stronger and safer than ever, allowing it to be used anywhere from roofs to staircases and interior walls – glass is no longer just for windows and the occasional sliding door.

Other innovations in glass have made it possible to fully utilise glass as a building material and prominent feature in domestic homes. Before, architects shied away from a fully-fronted glass home as the heating and cooling bills were astronomical and were only practical in an office environment. With new innovations in double-glazed glass, thermal insulating glass and solar control glass, this problem becomes less of an issue as the glass itself helps to regulate the temperature inside.

Another drawback of abundant use of glass in the home was the need to keep it clean. Glass roofs, conservatories and high walls were often avoided due to the time or cost involved in their cleaning. The advent of self-cleaning glass has helped to reduce this problem, encouraging and allowing for new innovations in the use of glass in domestic architecture. Self-cleaning glass utilises a special coating that reacts with sunlight to break down and loosen organic dirt that is then washed away by the rain. This same coating prevents the water from settling and streaking, rather encouraging run off, leaving the glass naturally cleaner and clearer. This allows architects the freedom to use glass for any exterior that their creativity can take them and has left us with some of the finest architectural uses of glass yet.

Why Stained Glass Products Make For an Ideal Gift?

Friday, 12 February 2016

To choose a special gift for your loved ones, can become a difficult task at times. With millions of gifts available online and in stores, one would have imagined that selecting the right gift is a trivial task, but what if you wanted to gift something rare or unique? Something which is not too common and by gifting which you could truly convey your love and regards for the recipient. Well, if that is the case let me suggest to you to look for stained glass gifts, which are not only beautiful and affordable but also unique. But before we talk more about gifts made from glass art, it would be good idea to know a little bit about this material itself.
Stained Glass Products
The first traces of stained glass usage have been found in the archaeological diggings of the Egyptian civilization, dating back to as early as 2nd century B.C. But mass use of stained glass in construction started happening only around the 5th and 6th century in Europe and Mid East Asia. Initially though, this kind of material was used primarily in churches and in other religious structures. It was only around the 10th century that artisans from Europe and Central Asia started to experiment with stained glass as an artwork. New techniques like glassblowing, fusing glass, lamp working and sand crafting were developed to take the craftsmanship to an even higher level. No longer was glass art limited to colored church windows but, sculptures, miniatures, designs and patterns were now being developed. Over the last centuries glass art has become a creative medium in itself and has become extremely popular. 
But glass art products are expensive!
Not really. Thanks to advances made towards the start of the last century, the cost of making this glass has come down considerably. Raw materials are easily accessible to the artist, as is, the knowledge of the craft. With a lot more artist now working in this medium, the price of stained glass products has become much more elastic. Yes, these products do come with a premium attached but, that is because of the high amount of artistry involved. One has to keep in mind that an art work is not a bulk factory produced product but rather the final outcome of an artist's creative process, which involves, the conception of a design, carefully hand crafting that concept into the art work and finally refining it.

Reasons why glass artwork gifting is effective.
As described above stained artwork gifts are not only artistic but also unique. When someone receives a art gift they immediately realize that you have chosen for them a unique piece of artistic expression rather than a mundane factory produced item. They will understand that even though you could have easily chosen from the millions of gifts out there in the marketplace, instead you have selected a unique hand crafted gift for them. Also, it's a usual standard practice for glass artists to attach a certificate of authenticity when they sell their products. This certificate is essentially a document of declaration by the artist that the artwork is original, unique and with no replicas. This adds further value to the gift because when the recipient of the gift sees the certificate, he or she will know that not only is this gift rare but also the only one of its kind ever made.
Choosing a gift made of stained glass has also become easier today. A lot of gifted and skilled glass artist now sell online and with a few clicks you can order your gift. And, there are a lot of product categories to choose from. Today, you can easily find a stained glass table lamp, dinnerware, jewelry, household product, figurines, amulets, candle stands, decorations, boxes, sculptures and much more. They are affordable and can be delivered easily.

Final thoughts on glass artwork gifts.
Gifting is both an art and an inexact science in itself involving aesthetics, emotions, affordability and an opportunity to show how much you care for the other person. With this article I have suggested that the next time you are looking for gifting something special and unique, include gifts made from stained glass in your search. The very first step to that would be, to just go online and explore the wonderful world of stained glass gifts.


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