Art and Obscure Glass creative options for door and windows

We've all seen art, or obscure glass, even if only in those security panes set in the doors of public buildings we've been in.

Look familiar?

Today, obscure glass is available in a vast selection of patterns, thicknesses, degrees of transparency, color, and texture. Besides providing privacy, obscure glass can be used entirely decoratively, or functionally, to bring light from the perimeter of a house deeper into the home--a reason why interior doors can be excellent candidates for obscure glass.

Modern windows actually began with this type of glass. The first Roman windows were a matrix of glass pebbles set into a frame. During the middle ages, French glassblowers found a way to spin a hollow bubble of molten glass into a flat circle. The circles were assembled in frames to create a window. The shape that took advantage of these discs with the least waste was the diamond, which is why the diamond shape is still often seen in leaded glass windows.

Casement operation was actually the first used in building windows, as they opened inward, protecting the valuable glass.

So, for centuries, windows weren't a view onto what lay beyond, as they are familiarly today, but instead a simple penetration of the building boundary to bring light inside, where the people were.

Glass was considered valuable enough that even the wealthy placed it only in the most important rooms, and often actually had glass panels removed and securely stored when they left their homes for any length of time.

Capturing Light

Obscure glass can bring light from the building perimeter into the core of a home
Wooden Window helped to create thresholds and interior gateways to St. John's Episcopal Church and it's interior chapel--providing light as well as a respectful sense of enclosure and contemplation (Contractor: Oliver and Co., Finishing: Heather and French, Glass: Lenehan Architectural Glass)

Another method to achieve some of the characteristics of obscure glass is etching.

Etched Glass

Also called French Embossing, etching glass involved the use of wax to isolate areas of the glass from an acid bath that etched the remainder of the pane, making it non-transparent. Acid etching was created in the late 1800's, as a way of using glass to enrich and enclose private spaces, and is still used today, although it has been replaced, for many purposes, by the less expensive technique of sandblasting.

Sliding etched glass doors help to keep a laundry area discrete
Virtually any image or pattern can be etched or blasted onto glass

Art Glass offers fresh and fascinating possibilities to any project-- interior or exterior--that involves new or restored windows and doors. And, as with any door or window project today, including restoration, Obscure Glass can be created in insulated configurations to save energy and deaden noise, or in conjunction with tempered or laminated glass, to upgrade security.

If you'd like to see a gallery of Obscure glass types:

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