Welcome to memories-in-glass.com! This website contains glass information and is dedicated to helping anyone interested in learning about this fascinating and wonderful art form. Throughout the site you can find material on fused glass and glass blowing that will help beginning artists imporve their skills and knowledge.
But first here's a little history on how this website came to be.
The How and Why of It All
BY: ABBY ROBINSON
I come from a long line of glass blowers. I am at least the 4th generation of my family to take up the craft. I say craft, because it is a running argument as to whether it is an art or a craft. I say at least 4 generations because beyond my great grandfather, we have yet to find out our ancestry. All I know for sure is that I was the only kid on my block that did not drink out of a jelly jar. We had hand blown glasses and never thought a thing of it.
My great grandfather, Frank Bischoff (who knows how they really spelled it but that is how it was recorded) came from Bavaria, as did his wife. They lived on the south side of Pittsburg, PA where most of the “glass houses” were located. In 1862 they had twin boys, Bernhardt and Anton, both of whom followed Frank into the business.
Bernhardt was my grandfather. They called him Barney and he stayed with glass eventually owning a “glass plant” of his own. In fact, he owned several, but there were reasons for that.
Prior to 1913 all glass object were made by hand. Edison’s invention of the “electric lamp” was limited only by the fact a team of glassworkers could only blow about 1200 bulbs a day. If you have ever watched glass being blown, you know that 1200 is an astounding number. However in 1913 a machine was invented in Corning, NY that could blow glass. It still required someone to put a gob of glass on a pipe but with 10 years there were over 60 such machines in production, each making 42 bulbs per minute.
In 1922 William Woods invented a new kind of machine - a machine that would eventually produce 2,000 bulbs per minute replacing the utility glass blower altogether. Sometime you should read about the Studio Glass Arts Movement. That is what has kept the art alive since the 50’s.
However, before it got to that, all bulbs, all glasses and most importantly prior to electricity, all lamp chimneys were hand blown. Factories had to be near resources to make the glass and transportation to distribute the final product. When they saturated the market or had a major fire, they would move on. To that end, B.F. Bischoff and Sons opened “glass factories” in Pittsburg, Pa, Stubenville, OH, Marion, IN, and Huntington, WV. Each town was on the Ohio River, near rail lines and had near by fuel sources. Along the way, ole Barney also got married and had 8 children, 3 of which followed him into the glass business. His youngest child was my mother.
My grandfather died long before I was born but I can still remember his sons, my uncles Bernard, Anthony and William, operating a factory not far from where Blenko Glass is now. I also remember all I ever got to do was watch and be told to be careful. By the time I was out of high school my uncles, as well as my mother, had gone to the great glass museum in the sky and I went to college to study science, not art.
I might have never gotten the opportunity to pick up a blowpipe had it not been for a flyer in a local gallery advertising classes at Glass Axis. I was one of their first students. That was in the early 90’s and while I’ve not quit my day job, there is no describing the amount of enjoyment I have gotten from blowing glass. Perhaps you might want to try it or one of the other ways to make art in this medium - lampworking, fusing, slumping etc. I hope you will – it’s fun.
Glass information | A two part article about how to blow glass. This piece talks about everything from turning on the annealer when you first arrive at the glass studio to how to use your glass blowing tools to shape the art piece.
Glass Art Supplies | An article with importtant tips on how to save money when buying glass supplies and information on where to find deals.
How to cut fused glass | Using either a pencil grip glass cutter or a pistol grip this article explains what to do and not to do when it comes to scoring glass.
Glass Kiln | This piece is all about kiln safety. It covers questions like, "Where should I put my kiln?" and covers precautions you need to take. It also talks about what you should wear when working with the kiln.
How to do glass etching | This article talks about how to use etching creme at home to add your own designs to a piece of glass. It is one one of the least equipment intinsive ways to decorate glass surfaces. The page outlines the materials you will need and the steps to take.
Dichroic Glass | Glass information on how to create the perception of depth using dichro.
Flat Fusing Glass | Using your glass kiln to flat fuse a reasonably sized piece of glass. This article talks about the times and temperatures needed to do this.
Printing On Glass | An introduction to the most common ways to put text on glass. Talks about screen printing onto fused glass and about how you need an ink that won't burn away while it's in your kiln.
Fused Glass Cracks | Learn how to troubleshoot glass problems. This page talks about how to identify why your glass broke by visually inspecting your art work. By looking at how the piece broke you should be able to determine what went wrong in the kiln.
Glass Making | Interesting intro from the book the Wonders of glass-making in all ages by Alexandre Sauzay. It was published in 1870.
You can find more information on the how to make link. There you can find pages on testing the compatibility of your glass and making your own glass frit. But if your looking to find a place near you to either fuse or blow glass then check out the glass classes page. For inspiration try checking out the featured glass artists we have here on the site.
And there you have it. All the information you'll ever need. Yeah right! Read on a learn more about this wonderful art form.