Do You Know How Dichroic Glass is Made?

Have you ever wondered about the meaning of Dichroic Glass and how it is made? NASA developed dichroic glass for use in satellite mirrors.  Dichroic glass is a multi layer coating placed on either black or clear glass using a highly technical vacuum deposition process. Quartz crystal and metal oxides are vaporized with an electron beam gun in an airless vacuum chamber and the vapor then floats upward and attaches then condenses on the surface of the glass in the form of a crystal structure. Some dichroic colors have many of these layers, yet the thickness of the total coating is approximately 35 millionths of an inch.

Dichroic coatings transmit certain wavelengths of light, while reflecting others. This creates a similar effect in other things, like the iridescence observed in fire opal, dragonfly wings and hummingbird feathers. Dichroic glass has two primary colors and many other secondary colors. The transmitted color is seen when holding the glass directly at a light and the reflected color is seen when the glass is placed against a dark background. As the dichroic glass is moved around, many other colors will be seen. The resulting piece of dichroic glass can then be fused with other glass in multiple firings.

Certain wavelengths of light will either pass through or be reflected, causing an array of color to be visible. Due to variations in the firing process, individual results can never be exactly reproduced; each piece of fused dichroic glass is unique. With the play of light together with its vibrant color, dichroic glass is a prime tool used to add interest to any glass project. There are many different colors, such as magenta, emerald, gold, and silver; many different patterns, such as marquis, jet stream, and boxes; and many different textures such as ripple, herringbone, and accordion. In addition, individual artists can use etching or sand blasting to put any kind of design on a piece of dichroic glass. Glass artists have unlimited design opportunities.

I love using dichroic glass to make glass pendants and glass earrings. I will usually put a piece of clear glass over the top of the dichroic glass and fuse it in my kiln. Other times, I will layer several different colors of dichroic glass on the same piece, which creates new colors for a truly one-of-a-kind glass pendant or earrings. Finally, I will attach a bail to the glass pendant or earrings and it is ready to wear!

I also use dichroic glass as a design element in some of my glass bowls, plates, vases, and sun catchers. I have put rectangles of different colors of dichroic glass on a clear background on glass bowls, which provides a lot of variety of dichroic colors.  I have also fused several different colors of “Sizzle Stix,” which are long and skinny pieces of dichroic glass, to a separate piece of glass and then fused the small piece to a larger piece of glass to make a gorgeous glass bowl.  I could go on and on with different projects.

Check out some of our Dichroic Glass Art!

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