Have you ever stopped to think about glass? It’s just about everywhere and yet we look right through it. Bad puns aside, it’s easy to take both this versatile material and the craft of making it for granted. Take just a moment to consider the following facts and then come watch the craftsmen at Silver Dollar City’s Hazel’s Blown Glass Shop in action and we promise you’ll never look at glass the same way again!
1. It's Been Around A While...
...a couple of millennia to be more precise. Glass blowing was discovered in the 1st century B.C., a prime place in history to guarantee its speedy growth along with the thriving Roman Empire. 2000 years and counting is a pretty good run.
2. Glass Breaks The Molecular Mold
We all know about the three states of matter: liquid, gas and solid. Glass doesn't quite fit into any of those categories, though. Glass is a state of matter called an amorphous solid. The cooling of the molten material produces molecular structure that is similar to that of a liquid, giving it some liquid qualities, like transparency, while still remaining solid.
3. Selenium Is Red, Cobalt Is Blue...
The primary ingredient of glass is a type of very fine sand called silica. Other materials used in the process can include soda ash (sodium carbonate) and limestone (calcium carbonate). Colored glass often takes its hues from oxides of elements including cobalt (blue), chromium (green), manganese (purple), selenium (red), cadmium (yellow) and copper (reds, greens & blues), just to name a few.
4. Glass Takes A Lot Of Heat
The process of glass blowing begins by gathering molten glass from the “Day Tank” at 2200 degrees. The glass is then transferred to the “Glory Hole” where is becomes workable at 2400 degrees. This step will be repeated several times as the artists shape the piece. The final step is to cool the finished product slowly at 900 degrees in the “Annealing Furnace.”
At Hazel’s Blown Glass you can watch magnificent glass creations take shape before your very eyes. Art, science, functionality and history all come together at the hands of passionate and highly skilled craftsmen and the result is mesmerizing.
So the next time you're at Silver Dollar City be sure to stop by and watch this everyday marvel of human ingenuity in action.