Learn

Decorating Crystal



Cut crystal can be decorated by hand or machine. When done by hand, a worker marks the glass with a crayon to guide a rough, course grit wheel that makes the cuts. Fine cutting then follows giving a smooth finish, but the cut remains with a matte gray finish until an acid polish reveals its brilliance.

Other methods of decorating glassware include:

- Engraving and etching: These are techniques for creating a surface pattern on glass. Engraving tends to be architectural and is typically done by a machine that carves a design into glass. Etching is more fluid as it is typically done by hand by an artisan who draws on the glass with acid.

- Precious Metal Detailing: Hand-applied gold or platinum banding is very popular and usually applied by skilled craftspeople.

- Gilding: A decoration made with gold-based pigment, powder, or gold leaf. The gold, or other precious metal, is fired to keep the decoration permanently attached to the glass. Designs can be simple or ornate and can be applied by hand or by machine.

- Ceramic Decals, Silk-screened Decoration, and Transfers: These types of decorations are also applied to glassware. They too, must be fired to ensure that the decoration adheres to the glassware.

- Colored Glass: Various colors can be created through the addition of mineral salts (such as cobalt for blue) to the mix of raw materials.

- Optic Glass: This is glass that has been blown into a mold to give the bowl a 'rippled' effect. The result is still transparent, but intentionally distorted.

- Air-twist Stems: This is a decorative spiral effect achieved by entrapping air bubbles in the molten glass and then stretching the stem into shape with a twisting motion.

- Frosted Glass: Sandblasting, acid baths, or silk screening can produce a semi-opaque gray-textured surface on glass.

- Iridescent Glass: Adding a special coating of metal oxides produces a shimmering, multi-color effect (similar to a soap bubble).