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.
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?