How Is Colored Glass Made?

As you find yourself browsing our shop, you’ll notice a few colored pieces that range from black to light pink. The process by which colored glass is created is rather interesting and intricate. It’s an artistic process that veers on the side of tradition. These days as you peruse the shelves of your favorite stores or as you browse popular online retailers, you’ll notice that there’s lots of color. Colored glass is attractive and it inspires a certain mood, theme, feel or style. It acts as a beautiful accent to table settings that would otherwise seem less inspired if each wine glass or tumbler was only clear.

Dusk to Dawn Grey White Wine Glasses

The Dusk to Dawn Wine Glasses are made using traditional techniques. Metals and oxides are added to ingredients to achieve the smoke color.

Today though, a lot of the colored glass you’ll find leans more towards efficiency that is driven by quantity and cost. As a result colored glass is no longer the traditional colored glass that you may see if you are looking at a vintage glass piece, for example. Much of today’s colored glass utilizes spray colors. These are special paints that are sprayed on a wine glass, let’s say. The wine glass will come out clear and then it is sprayed to achieve black, pink, blue, green etc. The spray technique is convenient, and aside from production efficiency, it allows for flexibility. Since you are essentially painting the color on,  you can virtually achieve any color you desire. However, flexibility comes with its own downsides. Typically, colored glass that uses this sprayed technique may exhibit textures from the paint. It requires a certain level of expertise to achieve near perfect texture and consistency. The color may not be as natural to the glass as it is using the traditional technique. Further, there are some ecological factors to consider. Not all spray solutions are safe, and knowing exactly where your product was manufactured and what color solutions have been used is not always possible. Finally, spray doesn’t always last forever; it may fade or wash off. In fact, in most cases colored glass that has been sprayed is only guaranteed to last in color for a certain amount of wash cycles.

Alexandrite Cordial Glasses

Nickle oxide is used to color the Alexandrite Cordial glass violet.

Now let’s circle back to traditional craftsmanship. The pieces you’ll find in our shop do not use a spray technique. Our colored glass is made the good old fashion way. You’ll notice when you look at real colored glass, that there is a high quality finish and look to it. The color is a part of the glass, and with very good reason because it actually is. Like all clear glass we start out with traditional ingredients sand, lime, soda ash and fire . Now to achieve color, various metals or oxides are added to the ingredients . For example, to achieve red colored glass a gold oxide is introduced. Red colored glass is usually more expensive because gold is used to achieve the hue. To achieve a violet color like the Alexandrite Cordial Glass, nickel oxide is added. During the production process unlike the spray technique mentioned above, the furnace at the time is completely dedicate to that one color. Typically what will happen is that the glass works will start with the production of clear glass, and then they will dedicate another month or period to another hue. They will usually start  with lighter colors working their way up to darker colors as they introduce different oxides. After each color, the furnace has to be cleaned. This process does require a minimum amount of pieces to be made at the time so that material is not wasted. If a minimum amount is not met then that color will not go into production rendering certain colors and pieces more rare. Though this is a more intensive process, it yields the most genuine and  flawless colored glass.