A Look Back at the History of Dichroic Glass

Published: 27th April 2011
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The first and oldest man-made type of dichroic glass was constructed using metals, mainly gold and silver evenly mixed throughout the glass to create solid sol, a particular type of colloidal dispersion. The metal particles are very little is size, often ranging between five and 200 nanometers. So well dispersed metal throughout the glass would appear completely homogenous and monochromatic on inspection. A wonderful example of this type of dichroic is the well-preserved Lycurgus Cup, which was created in Italy during the 4th century AD. Looking at it in reflected light makes the glass appear green, while in transmitted light, the glass appears to be red.

The next step in dichroicís evolution, and much more recently, is the use of a vacuum deposition system that adds layers of various metallic oxides on top of the glass. This is what most people know dichroic glass to be and it is the type of dichroic that is used in the creation of dichroic jewelry and art glass pieces.

Modern dichroic dates back to the mid to late 1950s when a group of defense contractors working for NASA and the Department of Defense developed this high-tech material for use as an optical filter. The goal was to create a shield to protect pilots and astronauts against cosmic radiation, amongst a variety of other intended uses. A good example is the golden sheen seen on an astronaut's face shield. This is a dichroic coating designed to protect against the unforgiving glare of natural direct sunlight.

A popular application for dichroic is in jewelry making. Dichroic adds flash and pizzazz, plus it adds sparkle and tranquility, but often at times too much bling can be overwhelming and gaudy. For example, slight gold highlights as part of the design of your house can create a sense of style and lavishness; but imagine that every lighting fixture, faucet, and electric plate was gold, that would be tacky. Stacking a piece of dichro on top of black glass is an easy and effective approach for making a good looking pendant, but one can quickly convert a exceptional design into something you can locate just about anywhere.

For many, it is really easy to fall into the snare of relying entirely on dichroic glass when making glass jewelry. However, dichroic glass can never make up for a lack of design, quality, technique, and not to mention artistic influence. Those who choose explore the interaction of certain colors, especially between the standard color palette of art glass and dichroic glass will gain the most from working with this material. It has been said that making dichroic glass is in fact rocket science, but remember, art is made from exploring its endless possibilities.

If you don't alread know, the best place to locate 90 & 96 COE dichroic glass for making dichroic jewelry, is the leading source of dichro - DichroicGlassPortal.com where you will find every color, pattern, and texture dichroic sheets, plus equipment, such as glass kilns and other tools.

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