Using a Handmade Glass Sink in the Bathroom – Combining Art & Function

All About Glass Sinks

The hottest trend in bathroom design today is the handmade glass sink – often referred to as a glass vessel sink – which has become the latest must-have for luxury homeowners. Combine the versatility in color and design offered by glass with the vessel mount trend and it’s no wonder that our company, Glass Artists Gallery, can barely keep up with demand. Vessel-mounted, fused, slumped, mosaic, under-mounted and hand-blown sinks have even influenced the faucet manufacturers’ designs because of their unprecedented popularity.

We find ourselves answering questions and dispelling myths surrounding sinks just about every day. This article was created to answer some of the more common questions such as “What is a handmade sink?” “Are they expensive?” “What are the differences in the glass sinks I see in the showrooms and online?” “Are they durable?”

Types of Glass Sinks

To better understand the three main categories of glass vessel sinks, it helps to understand the three main types of glassmaking:

Cold Glass — Working with glass at room temperature. Examples are mosaic glass, stained glass, glass carving and etching.

Warm Glass — The process of fusing, slumping or other kiln forming techniques at temperatures between 1100 and 1700 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hot Glass— The process of blowing glass using a furnace that melts the glass at 2200 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the glass is gathered on the end of a pipe, the artist forms the hot glass using a “Glory Hole” (an oven that maintains a temperature of around 1200 degrees Fahrenheit). The resulting work is then slowly cooled in an annealing oven.

With the above in mind, there are three main categories of artisan crafted glass sinks you will find at Glass Artists Gallery:

Fused & Slumped — Glass fusing is the process of joining together pieces of glass. When the right kind of glass is heated and then cooled properly, the resulting fused glass piece will be solid and unbroken. Using fusing techniques, the artist creates patterns and designs in color. The resulting sheet of fused glass is then slumped into the vessel shape. In the slumping process the glass is laid into, or on top of a mold and heated just to the point where it “Slumps” to fit the form of the mold. Once the glass reaches the desired form it must be cooled quickly enough to stop the movement that will result in cracking. Although this might sound simple, the resulting sinks can be quite intricate in their design and require hours of painstaking labor.

Blown Glass — Hand blown glass sinks are created through a much different process. This “hot glass” process allows an artist to create myriad different styles, colors, shapes and sizes that are always unique. Layers of glass are “gathered” onto the end of a “rod” or “pipe” and formed, blown and worked into a vessel shape. Color is applied in many different forms at the beginning of the process. Once finished, the piece is “annealed” for a minimum of 48 hours for maximum durability. Due to variations in the glass blowing process, every sink will be unique.

Mosaic Glass — Pieces of hand-cut colored art glass are adhered to the inside surface of a 1/2″ thick annealed glass bowl. Annealing is a process of bending the glass at extremely high temperatures to assure durability of use in the most extreme temperature conditions. The sink is then grouted with a specially mixed blend of sand and tinted cement, then sealed and finished with a protective clear polymer coating to create a smooth surface which is colorful, sturdy, easy to care for and a breathtaking focal point for any bathroom.

Handmade or Production?

As you can see from the types of glass sinks that are available, you have many different choices for incorporating a stunning centerpiece in the bath. The choice you will need to make is whether you want an original “work of art” – an artisan created sink – or a “factory produced” glass vessel. The trend in glass sinks has created a flood of offshore imports that are now available. We liken the current choices to the art world where you can find original art as well as “prints” or “reproductions”. Production sinks made in a factory are mass produced generally using single sheets of glass. Many are painted with a design. Few, if any, are truly “slumped & fused”.

Durability of Glass Sinks

How do we, as glass specialists, reassure the end user of a glass sinks durability? The analogy I use is that the glass sinks we sell are made by professionals and are able to withstand similar abuse as a porcelain sink. In other words, if you drop a heavy object into a glass sink with enough force to break it, you would have also broken a typical porcelain sink. They both have similar strength characteristics.

The difference between these two materials is that glass is more prone to “thermal shock”. Thermal shock can occur when there is a sudden temperature change of more than 70 degrees. For example, you don’t want to pour scalding hot water (over 120 degrees) into a glass sink. Hot water from the tap is generally 100 – 110 degrees, so the temperature difference is well within the safe zone. The most common occurrences of thermal shock happen when a sink is left on a jobsite where the temperature is unregulated.

When installing a glass vessel sink, be sure your contractor knows that thermal shock can be a problem if the jobsite is not yet heated. In addition, make sure they know that the drain assembly should be hand tightened only. Over-tightening the drain is the second most common cause of breakage.

At Glass Artists Gallery, our clients use glass sinks not only in the powder room, but also in the master bath, guest baths and even children’s baths. When treated and installed properly, they are durable, safe and fantastic design options. With proper lighting, they will “glow” and cast wonderful light and shadow effects throughout the bath. They will certainly set your project apart!

To see all of the glass sinks available, as well as artisan crafted sinks in other mediums including stone, metal, ceramic and even wood – please visit Sinks Gallery

Cullet, The Recycling of Glass

Cullet

Waste glass is called cullet. The word cullet comes from the art of glass blowing. Every time a blown item is separated from the blowing pipe there remains some glass at the blowing pipe and also the connecting part at the blown item has to be removed afterwards. The last is also called the little neck of the blow piece or collet. These two pieces of glass, the collet and the blow pipe left-over are going back into the glass oven, they are recycled. The word cullet is probably derived from collet.

Some of the waste glass is collected. After collecting all the glass products are crushed and this crushed glass bears the name cullet. There is no typical size for the broken pieces of glass to be called cullet. Broken windows, broken bottles, broken glassware for instance, belong all to the category cullet.

There are companies which are specialized in selling cullet and offer a wide range of different colors and glass types.

Reusing waste glass is good for the environment

The main purpose to collect broken glass is recycling. Glass is an ideal material for recycling. Broken glass can be heated up in the glass oven and from the glass melt new items can be made, over and over again and virtually nothing is lost.

Every metric ton or 1,000 kg of cullet recycled, saves 315 kilograms of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere during the creation of new glass.

For the production of glass, from the raw materials soda ash, limestone and sand, every 1000 kilograms of cullet used replaces 1.,200 kilograms of the raw materials.

By adding 10% of cullet to the melting glass batch instead of the raw materials, 2.5% of energy is saved.

Since glass makes up a large part of household and industrial waste, due to its weight and density, collecting glass waste reduces the volume of waste sent to landfill.

In layman’s terms: Recycling of glass is good for the environment (less carbon dioxide output, reducing volume of waste landfill), it safes natural resources (less raw materials necessary, less fuel for melting necessary) and it safes costs (lower energy costs).

Collection of waste glass

Most people around the world are used to the recycling of glass. Already forty years glass containers can be found in many municipalities or there is some sort of organisation around the collection of waste glass.

At the collection points usually clear glass is separated from the green and the amber glass. Otherwise the glass is separated afterwards at a cullet company.

This separation of colors is very important. Glass of different colors have usually a different chemical nature and this influences things like melting temperatureand viscosity. Another problem is the color because clear glass will be slightly colored if only a little green, amber or blue glass is mixed in the used cullet.

The household waste glass is mostly packaging glass, which is all made of the normal soda-lime glass. Heat-resistant glass has a totally different chemical nature. If only a little bit heat-resistant glass is present in cullet then it has a big effect on the viscosity during the melting process and this has to be avoided. That’s why heat-resistant glass may not be thrown into a waste glass container.

Metal caps and plastic parts can usually be separated by the waste glass processor. However every non-glass part that slips to the separation process, like the Tungsten wires from the good old light bulb, can give rise to inclusions which make the new glass not only less beautiful but it also makes the glass less strong (locally) and this can be a safety issue.

Products made out of cullet

Because it is a bulk industry, the highest value product that is made of recycled glass are new glass packaging materials (and also household glassware). Another high-value end product is fiberglass which can be used for insulation materials or in composite materials. The cullet used for glass packaging and fiberglass needs to be color separated and free from any foreign material.

Cullet that doesn’t meet these specifications can be found in many other “secondary” applications like glass countertops, tiles, abrasive products and filtration products.

Much research has been done to mix the glass cullet with concrete for which the cullet doesn’t need to have high specifications. The concrete made in this way is stronger and has a higher insulation capacity than concrete without cullet. The cullet used for concrete is called glass aggregates and is a mixture of cullet with different colors.

These glass aggregates are also increasingly used, as a replacement for gravel or crushed rock, for pipe bedding for sewer pipes and drinking water pipes.

Many glassware factories make use of cullet for their products. For high-end glassware this is usually up to 10% because the clarity of the glass can be affected by using more cullet.

Some glassware companies make full use of cullet and use only cullet for the production of their glassware. If only cullet is used to make a new glass batch, the glass is not as homogeneous as it is made with the usual raw materials. This results in an end product with some local flaws and more air bubbles. Some glassware manufacturers make use of the imperfections of this “cullet-glass”, because the products can look antique and more nostalgic. A good example is the company Guajuye in Mexico which makes beautiful glassware from this type of glass.

People improvise all the time and there are artists and even companies who use waste glass before it is crushed. Good examples are the Green Glass Company and the French artist Laurence Brabant. They use old bottles and make all kind of decorative products, but also useful products out of it.

Separating glass and bringing it to the waste glass container is a common thing nowadays. By doing that you help reducing the pressure on the environment and natural resources. In the meantime you also help companies reducing their costs and you create possibilities for other people to start a new business.

Don’t Quit Reading – Use Reading Glasses!

Surgery may correct distance vision, but it creates the need for reading glasses. Reading glasses look like normal glasses, but they actually give you good distance vision and good reading vision. For detail activities such as prolonged reading, have a pair of reading glasses made that provide balanced near vision. Almost a third of the American population needs reading glasses, but engineers designing web sites are typically under 40 with perfect vision. This often leaves them with perfect reading vision, without glasses, in old age, despite having lost accommodation through presbyopia. People who do not need glasses for distance vision may only need half glasses or reading glasses. In the past, traditional eye exams for near vision have resulted in glasses suited only for reading printed material, not for viewing computer screens. People with natural 20/20 distance vision will likely need reading glasses when presbyopia develops. Even if you achieve excellent vision through surgery, reading glasses are usually necessary beyond 45 years of age. If you have Lasik to correct your distance vision, you’ll still need reading glasses around age 45. Of course, one can use two different pairs of glasses, each with single vision lenses – one pair just for reading, and another for looking into the distance.

Distance

This is what reading glasses are about; they let you focus in on fine detail at a close distance. Baby boomers who have LASIK may end up trading in their old distance glasses for reading glasses. For those who need distance of midfield glasses, bifocals can often be the answer to providing for both distance and reading needs. Other customers may wish to consider the option of owning two pairs of glasses; one pair for distance and another for reading. And with half-eye reading glasses, you can look down through the lenses for reading and over the lenses to see in the distance. They will turn your standard distance glasses into reading glasses or your reading glasses into super magnifying lenses.

Wearing Your Glasses

Contacts have given me back some youth, but when I have them in I have to wear reading glasses. Speaking of glasses, I wear reading glasses when using a computer. I would recommend this group to anyone looking for unique and/or quality reading glasses – Roseanne-Arizona. And despite Dorothy Parker’s famous quip, women do look attractive who wear eyeglasses for reading. This means to wear the compact reading glasses down a bit on your nose. If you already wear regular glasses or reading glasses, you may be tempted to dismiss the need for computer glasses. Even non eyeglasses wearers can wear them over their sunglasses when working or reading outside. You wouldn’t wear reading glasses for driving, or at least I hope you wouldn’t. I think it was because I kept reading books with dimmed lights that made me started to wear glasses. There is no need to wear reading glasses underneath your safety glasses ever again.

Computer

These glasses give these people the ability to have proper eye protection, and allow easy reading of plans, instructions and computer screens. Some may need to use reading glasses for close work such as reading, using a computer, or sewing. For activities like reading or working on a computer, patients who’ve had cataracts removed commonly require reading glasses. Caution should be used concerning buying ready-made magnifying or reading glasses off the rack in stores to use as computer glasses.

Case

By using a reading glasses case you will prevent accidents that could ruin them. Mini reading glasses almost always come with a case designed specifically for this type of reading glasses. Plastic or metal reading glasses can be used with either a hard or soft case. Most likely a soft case will come with plastic reading glasses. The soft fabric protects the lens while the soft case is basically just storage for the reading glasses. Often such readers come with a hard case that is designed to store a specific style of reading glasses.

Lens

That is when you start reaching for reading glasses, because you need the extra power that your own lens can’t provide anymore. Off-the-rack reading glasses have the same lens power in each lens. Flip-up reading glasses – these are like the flip-up sunglasses, except they provide a magnifying lens. Even contact lens users often use reading glasses.

Prescription

If you’re experiencing those problems, visit your eye doctor for a reading glasses prescription. While pinholes are not as cheap as off-the-rack reading glasses, they are considerabley cheaper than individual prescription glasses. Purchasing reading glasses made up to your prescription is the perfect way to solve this problem. If they say you need a prescription, tell them that reading glasses can be bought in drugstores without a prescription. Over-the-counter reading glasses are inexpensive eyeglasses that can be purchased in variety, drug, and discount stores without a prescription.

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