In the same way glass is infinitely malleable in the care of a skilled artisan, glass lamp shades come in a dizzying combination of styles, diameters, and colors. During Roman eras and likely before, people were indulging in the craft of making useful and even elaborate glassware. In more contemporary times, as natural gas and electrical lighting permeated our world during the industrial ages, glass lamp shades also entered the homes.
In this way, glass lamp shades have integrated into both home lighting and the exclusive circles of art. because of the singular properties of glass, shaping glass is unlike any other craft. It is a composite substance, distinguished by molecular disorder. As seen in crystals or ice, the atoms don’t line up neatly even in its solid form. When glass is heated, it doesn’t undergo a change from a solid to liquid.
Rather, as it softens, flows and deforms under pressure. The experienced craftsman starts off with a mass of heated vitreous substance. He uses a long, hollowed out steel rod known as a blow pipe to pick up the glass. By alternately breath-inflating the softened glass and rolling the glass on a metal table with the rod, he can mold the glass into a cylindrical shape.
Finer features of the glass, such as flaring of the edge of the lamp shade, are adjusted with additional metal tools. Lamp shades come in various colors. Louis Comfort Tiffany, the well-known interior decorator, was famous for creating stained glass lamp shades. Calling upon the artistic framework of stained glass art, Tiffany combined lead rods and fragments of colored glass to generate dreamlike art reflecting a dazzling combination of colors, objects and scenes from nature. For the craftsmen, adding color to the glass is an integral piece of the craft. Because of the presence of metal oxide contaminants, the material may begin by being tinted. The artisan might also add color to the material through several procedures. A tiny chunk of colored material can be softened over transparent glass to give rise to a double layer effect. To create novel designs, very small crushed grains of tinted material may be mixed into clear material. In another process called enameling, a paste mixture is used to draw designs on the glass directly.