Collecting Art Glass

By Joanne Andrighetti

Handcrafted glass is an increasingly popular medium to collect. There is no denying its inherent beauty, delicious colours and ability to reflect and transmit light. But glass can also be very functional, and using it for everyday or special occasions brings an added level of enjoyment.

Production and One-of-a-Kind

Glass generally falls into two categories, production and one-of-a-kind.  Production allows a craftsperson to perfect his or her original design through repetition.  Production items tend to be functional items such as drinking vessels, bowls and marbles.  The same design may be available in a choice of colours.  Keep in mind that although they all follow the same design, each one will be slightly different, which is part of the fun of finding the one that appeals to you.  Many collectors specialize in one type of object, such as paperweights, collecting examples from many different artists.

One-of-a-kind-work is less likely to be functional. Its value will be determined by many factors, including size, complexity of the design, skill required to execute it and the reputation of the artist.  A one-of-a-kind piece is more likely to appreciate in value over time.  It should be signed (usually engraved) and dated by the artist.

Glass Jewellery

Wearing glass jewellery is a great way to show off your glass collection and rarely fails to attract attention. Look for eye-catching pieces that are assembled with quality findings.

Caring for Glass

Most glass can be cleaned with warm water and dish soap.  The surface of some glass may have been sandblasted or acid etched, giving it a frosted look.  After cleaning sandblasted glass you may want to rub in a small amount of oil, such as mineral oil, to revive its sheen.  Avoid abrasives and exposure to high temperatures, such as hot coffee, which can cause glass to crack.  The exception is borosilicate glass, which is designed to withstand sudden temperature changes.  Don’t hesitate to ask the maker how to best care for your glass.  With proper care, glass should last for many generations and will never fade, deteriorate or otherwise lose its beauty.