The thing about red glass...

The thing about red glass...

by Tawny Reynolds on Jan 20, 2017

The trouble with red glass... by Sundrop Jewelry ...It doesn't stay red!

At the beginning of the month, I introduced January's birthstone - garnet.  Since Valentine's Day is coming up, I thought I'd continue with the red theme, but this time talk about the red glass itself.

First off, all the pinks and red glass I use is artists's stained glass, as the few apparently red glass bottles you may have seen are all actually painted - and sadly, the paint just burns off.

Red glass is surprisingly difficult to work with.  Because I melt glass using focused sunshine, the intensity of the heat is highly variable - and so is how the heat is distributed through the glass.  With darker colors (like the garnet red glass above), much of the light (and thus heat) is absorbed on the side facing the light, while the other side remains cooler.  I have to flip and turn the glass constantly to heat the drop evenly enough to form a symmetric handmade glass drop.  But the red glass still doesn't heat perfectly evenly, as it would be in a kiln.

In this video you can see how much I have to keep the glass moving to heat evenly. It's fast, but you can just spot a curvy streak that is a bit darker than the rest of the molten glass - that will end up being a more opaque streak of glass once it cools.

Sometimes it changes color unexpectedly as it heats and cools - turning orange, yellow, or rusty brown, or leaving streaks of opaque or darker glass once it has cooled down. They do make some fun and interesting color mixes, but it's really hard to find good pairs!

Four different red glass sheets that look a lot alike produce very different results.  It's hard to see, but the left-most drop has streaks that are nearly black.

The yellowy, streaky red of these earrings started out as a pure red sheet of glass.
(Also, this is the last pair!  Get them here.)

Garnet red glass drops (made from this glass by Spectrum Glass Company) is one of the few deep reds I have found that stays true to color and also doesn't contain any lead. (Different colors of glass are made by adding certain elements. I try to stay lead-free with my glass working, and reds, pinks, and purples made without lead are hard to find!)

I was really worried when I heard last May that Spectrum was closing their doors - finding a new, consistent red glass was not something I was looking forward to! Luckily for me - and you too, if you love this deep garnet color - it turns out Spectrum stained glass will continue under new owners. Hooray! Plus, I can't wait to see what new colors they come out with!

Shop Sundrop Jewelry's garnet red glass jewelry

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