Saturday, June 10, 2006


click photo to enlarge
The first glass was made by the Phoenicians. It was translucent, and had a blue-green hue due to iron impurities in the sand. The first window glass dates from 1st century BC Egypt, and it too was translucent. Not until the eleventh century AD, in Germany, was the technique perfected for making flatter, thinner glass by forming a cylinder from a blown sphere, then cutting it and flattening it out. This had better transparency, but still didn't achieve the perfect clarity that was sought. In the early nineteenth century window glass was made commercially using a development of the cylinder method, and was closer to the standard we know today. Then during the early twentieth century machinery was used for the first time, and it made completely flat and clear glass. But here's the irony; once the centuries-long search for a quality of glass that transmitted light perfectly - that behaved as though it wasn't there - had been achieved, manufacturers set about developing countless types of translucent glass!

We use translucent glass - it's also called frosted or patterned - where we need light but also privacy. In most houses it is commonly found in the bathroom! There is a tendency today to choose glass with representational patterns - leaves are popular. However, I prefer non-representational designs, and, being a traditional sort of person, stick with the variety known as Large Flemish.

The photograph above shows the head of a hand whisk on a window sill, lit by the refraction patterns thrown by Large Flemish glass when the sun is shining through it. This pattern has been appearing each afternoon at this particular window, and I wanted to include the smoke-like shading in the background of a photograph. Here I placed the whisk slightly to the right of the frame so that it threw its own interesting shadow to the left, and took the photograph using a macro lens. The only post processing is a some increase in contrast and saturation.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen