Sunday, 15 May 2011

Beautiful Transparency: Glass part 1

The light-transparent quality of glass
It is light which gives glass its shimmer and sparkle, so, I love to place it where it can be seen to its best advantage.  Add colour to glass. and it can take on jewel-like qualities. 
In the early years of  glass making, cobalt blue was the pigment used to achieve the colour I so much love.  However, cobalt ores contain arsenic and the processes of crushing and smelting the ore produced a highly toxic compound.  So, the beautiful old examples of blue glass have claimed a heavy toll on the health and lives of those producing the blue pigment.

Blue marbles      
Glass ballons
Painted balls

Soda, silica and lime are the basic ingredients in making glass.

It is not known, for sure, when or where glass was first made but it is believed to have originated in Syria.  From there the knowledge  spread  to Egypt, where the oldest known glass artifact is believed to be 7000 years old.

Here, in Norway, It was King Christian 1V who initiated the terms for glass production and  in the 18th century 7 glass works were established.

Hurdal glass 1790 - 1820
Nøstetangen glass

 In 1773, The Royal Blaafarvevaerk was founded to process the cobalt ore extracted in nearby mines.

One of the old cobalt mines
The cobalt blue pigment used in glass and porcelain production was made here  and by the 19th century 80% of the world's demand was supplied from the Blaafargevaerk.

Blue Glass was also made in the Norwegian glass works.

Gjøvik glass 1807-1843

Glass made in the 18th and 19th century is now sought-after by collectors.
However, modern designs recapture earlier shapes.

I love the shapes and  designs of decanters.  I like them first and foremost as beautiful objects but, of course, they can also be put to good use. However, older glass may become grey and slightly cloudy and decanters are notoriously difficult to clean.  So, I prefer not to keep the port and sherry in these.

In the Hurdal- style

Early 20th century
Late 19th century

Old and new decanters

I have been visiting our local studio glass-blowing workshop.  So, I'll show you those pictures in a later post.



  1. Hello Anna:
    The mix of clear and blue glass decanters on your white table looks absolutely charming. A perfect still life in glass which has all the look of a party just about to happen. What a jolly thought!

    The potted history of Norwegian glass making you gave here is most intriguing and, as you say, the shapes of some of the old glass pieces were so elegant.

    We have a collection of late C19 blue glass chemist bottles and, as you say here, the light passing through them is so attractive. We do like the idea of using coloured marbles to add extra sparkle...we shall steal your idea if we may?

  2. Thank you Jane and Lance for your kind comments.

    I envy you your blue chemist bottles. They are Bristol blue perhaps.


  3. Love your 'glassy' collection! I'm your 11th follower!
    Come by and visit with me anytime!

    Ciao Bella!

    Creative Carmelina

  4. Hello Anna. Thank you so much for visiting my site. I love coloured glass and your great idea of the little glass balloons - lovely!

  5. Hello Anna,
    Thank you for visiting me and I'm glad you liked my "rain". I will happily send you some as it hasn't stopped yet! I just searched for rain sounds on the mixed pod thingy and saved it to my blog, a miracle as I am not really technical!
    I do love to see the beautiful Swedish Gustavian style and Georgian is my favourite English period. Your glass collection is stunning, you have shown it off so brilliantly.
    Best wishes.

  6. Intersting post, the blue glass is stunning.The buildings at the Norwegian mine and glassworks are very pretty, not like our industrial buildings! Love Linda x

  7. I love the sight of light shining through blue glass - it's one of the reasons I am always tempted to buy things from Neals Yard Remedies!

    Pomona x

  8. Hi Anna

    I'm so glad you found me. Thank you. So good to make your acquaintance. I love your blog. This post made me smile. I'm a bit of a magpie - and love anything which glitters and glimmers. I adore glass, especially cobalt. I wish you could see some of the little hangies and perfume bottles around our barn, you would see I'm not just saying it ;)

    I look forward to following your posts in the future.

    warm wishes

  9. Beautiful glass collection, I have always loved glass and have a lot of glass bottles in my dark, north facing living room and I love how it relects back some much needed light x

  10. Well hello from Over The Pond. I am getting such wonderful friends and followers on my blog. My Old Historic House. I so do love meeting new people and from all over the world, how exciting. Please come back and visit me again and again. I usuallly post about 2 tomes a week. I love the blue glass and I love you for coming to visit me. Thanks gain and again. Richard

  11. Thankyou Anna for the visit, kind comments and useful background information into confirmation. Hope you are having a lovely week, much love Linda x

  12. Hi Anna, thanks for popping by. I'm sorry if I made you homesick, but you can guess I was a bit impressed with Northumberland and will certainly return.
    Loved your post on glass, very interesting and some of the pieces are exquisite.
    Jenny x

  13. I don't think people properly appreciate sunlight until the live in a predominantly cloudy place...or one with long dark winters. It was one of the stranger aspects of a lot of the English houses I looked at when hunting one to buy: all those peculiar glass doors. I love coloured glass - particularly when the sun is shining through it and casting reflections elsewhere!

  14. Hi Anna,
    What a gorgeous collection of decanters! I stumbled across your blog while researching a paper on 19th century Norwegian glass production. I wonder if you would mind sharing your sources for the information on King Christian 1V and the 7 glass-works factories, and the Royal Blaafarvevaerk? I would really appreciate it as I've found relatively little information thus far.
    Thanks for sharing these pictures!