WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT VINTAGE GLASS

A scene viewed in reflection on the surface of water–even very still water– can be transformed  to something  more beautiful than the actual trees, sky and clouds above it.

...A sea loch situated on the western coast of Scotland, in the Highlands (photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/bootneck_1/2572932269/

I feel the same sense of wonder when I look at the world through vintage glass.

This week (yey!) we built the final three windows into the western wall of our barn.    We found these wonderful windows at DeConstruction,  a local salvage and recycling company that specializes in pre-1930 materials.  (See my post Old Window in a New Timber Frame Barn ).

The windows we fell for, of course, proved complex when it came to incorporating them into the timber frame and thick, oak board wall.  During this prolonged process, I performed the mind-numbing task of Human Clamp while Doug  meticulously notched and nudged timber and frame  into harmonious conjunction.

As I held each one in place for its many fittings, I was diverted by the view they afforded.  Looking at the same line of trees I have been studying  for seven years, I was suddenly seeing them in a new way through the old glass.

While I gazed, I mused on what I have long thought was a fact – that glass is really a liquid, and old glass is ripply because it is flowing downward more slowly than a glacier.

THE LIQUID MYTH

Imagine my shock when, researching this post, I learned that this is not true!  Glass in very old buildings is not thicker at the bottom because it has flowed downward.  I now know (Is glass liquid or solid?) that such shapes were created by being spun into discs that were cut into panes and fitted (logically) with their thickest side to the bottom.  Apparently, glass is neither a liquid nor solid.  It is another state of matter all together – which makes me love it even more.  Especially old glass.

WHAT SKEWS OUR VIEWS

The wavy quality I so prize is not caused by gravity, but because all glass made then was blown into bubbles or cylinders and then flattened and therefore have an outside diameter greater than their inside diameter.

Here is a great link to see how glass was made by mechanically blowing huge cylinders in the not-so distant past up to the 1960s.

And here is a link that shows how glass is made today.  Molten glass is “floated” onto a bath of molten tin.  Tin and glass do not mix and thereby form a surface between them that is perfectly flat.

Just for the fun of it, here is a link to a website featuring budget décor projects you can make with vintage windows, like a wall hanging or a ceiling lamp.

I know our house will be built with sleek, modern glass that incorporates state-of-the art insulation properties, so I take comfort also knowing that I can always retreat to the barn when I need to see the world in a more whimsical way.

Have you got any vintage glass in your life? How do you fit it into the practical world?

,,,Reflecting on the world. (photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/rengel134/4481714833/

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3 replies

    • Heather!
      So very nice to hear from you!
      Thanks for your comment.
      The idea for this blog came to me, as I said, during those very long minutes when I was holding each window carefully in place as Doug measured and muttered and figured out how to make each one fit into it’s space, bound by massive pieces of wood that make up our timberframe barn.
      The windows in our house in town (built in the early 1920s) also have ripply glass that I havedreamily gazed out countless hours. I think it was looking at the gnarled oak branches against a crisp, January blue sky through those vintage windows that made me fall in love with the house we live in now from the minute I stepped inside.
      Windows made of ripply glass in multiple panes have always made my heart go pit-a-pat.
      And I thought I knew what made them ripply.
      I had to laugh out loud at myself when I realized what a non-factoid I had been cherishing.
      I wonder what else I have been completely sure of that is balderdash.
      A great day to you,
      your loving aunt Denise

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