Glass FAQ: Color

One of the best parts about doing a craft show is talking to the people who stop by. One question that’s sure to come up during the day: how do you get the color in there? I can’t speak for everyone, but here’s how it works for me: I buy colored glass and apply it to clear. What happens when you do is part of what makes glassblowing such a fun challenge.

I work with colored glass that takes one of three basic forms: rod, powder or frit.

Rod is just that, a rod or bar of color.

{color rod}

A slice or chunk of color from a rod is heated in a box to about 1000 degrees, then picked up or dropped onto another layer of glass. Color rod generally gives you a uniformity in your color application that’s not possible with frit or powder.

Powder is colored glass like the rod above that’s been ground down into a powder. It’s then applied to a layer of glass and melted in. The thicker your application of powder, the denser the color.

{powder}

Frit is chunks of glass and can come in various sizes from vary fine to big and chunky. Like powder, it’s applied to a layer of glass and melted in.

{frit}

Once you’ve applied your color, the real fun begins. How will the glass move? How will one color blend with another? How true will your colors be when a piece is finished and out of the annealer? How will you do it differently next time?

I used rod, frit and powder (two each) to make the below bowls. Any guess on which uses which?


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8 thoughts on “Glass FAQ: Color

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  2. I’m guessing that the orange on the white bowl was done with a rod?

    The blue bowl looks like it has white in it – so maybe the powder? because it’s very subtle? and the white swirl on the blue bowl doesn’t look as solid as the one on the white and orange bowl, so I’m going to guess frit for that part?

    Did I pass? 🙂

    These bowls are absolutely beautiful! And this is such an interesting post. I had no idea that this is how you get the awesome colours into the glass. Fascinating!

  3. Many thanks for the kind words and for weighing in on the “how it’s made” question! On the white and orange bowl, the white is made with rod and the orange with frit. Multiple layers of frit made the orange pretty solid looking. On the other, the blue is frit and the white swirl is powder. Since neither application is as solid as rod, light comes through a bit more and lends hints of transparency.

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