What Is Glass Art?

Glass is a fascinating material that has been used for both practical and artistic purposes throughout history. 

Glass objects are undeniably unique both for their natural characteristics and properties, but also for their aesthetic appeal — achieving a much different effect to other popular mediums like canvas and paint, clay, or ink and paper. 

There have been so many approaches to glass and different style used by various artists over the years that it's impossible to easily characterise glass art as any one thing. Different themes, methods and processes have been used to render a multitude of effects.

Today, artists continue to be inspired by more traditional glass art processes, while many are also encouraged by innovations in glass printing that allow them to push design boundaries and use the material in a whole new way. 

We take a look at some of the most popular glass art techniques, including glass printing, used to create one of our most popular products at Culzean Gifts: glass artwork featuring the Trevor M Hirst Collection.


Common Glass Art Techniques Used Today 

Below are some of the most common glass art techniques used by many artists and studios throughout the UK today. 

Hot Glass 

The term hot glass broadly describes the use of molten glass created with a temperature around 2000° degrees. It includes blown glass, solid sculpted glass, and cast glass. 

When subjected to intense heat, the material can be used to achieve some amazing results, with glass blowing, sculpting and casting into moulds. 

Cast glass or ‘glass casting’ is usually done by ladling the hot molten glass into a mould while glass sculptures and ornaments are commonly made with hot molten glass from a furnace. 

Warm Glass 

You don't need to heat glass quite as high as 2000° degrees to create glass art. Warm glass is a process that uses temperatures between 1250° – 1600° degrees and involves heating the glass in an oven or kiln. 

Common methods used within warm glass art techniques include slumping, where flat plate or sheet glass is heated just hot enough for the glass to bend or move with gravity. Glass can then be placed onto a mould and formed during the ‘slumping’ process. 

Also, 'fused glass' describes the technique when pieces of glass are heated hot enough to melt together. And additional terms such as ‘kiln glass’, ‘kiln cast glass’, ‘bent glass’, ‘glass bending’, and ‘pate de verre’ can be used to describe similar warm glass techniques. 

Cold Glass 

There are several techniques used to create glass art that don't require heat. These are described as cold glass techniques or 'cold working'. It includes many approaches such as grinding, mosaics, polishing, engraving or etching. 

Glass Printing 

While glass printing could be described as cold glass working, this approach to glass decoration really deserves its own category. 

Glass is a versatile material that can be used as a kind of canvas for the printing of suitable inks that render glass in different shades. Innovations in printing processes now offer increased opacity and vibrancy. 

Artists can manipulate the properties of translucence and reflection to create amazing and unique effects with glass art. This is evidenced in our popular Trevor M Hirst collection at Culzean Gifts, exhibiting the amazing way glass can be an enthralling medium in contemporary artwork.


December 20, 2020 — Paul Winrow