Enamelled glass is glass which has been decorated with vitreous enamel (powdered glass, possibly mixed with a binder) and then fired to fuse the glasses. It can produce brilliant and long-lasting colours, and be transparent, translucent or opaque. Generally the desired colours only appear when the piece is fired, adding to the artist's difficulties.
It is similar to vitreous enamel on metal surfaces, but the supporting surface is glass. It is also close to "enamelled" overglaze decoration on pottery, especially on porcelain, and it is thought likely that the technique passed from metal to glass (probably in the Islamic world), and then in the Renaissance from glass to pottery (perhaps in Bohemia or Germany).
Glass may be enamelled by sprinkling a loose powder on a flat surface, painting or printing a slurry, or painting or stamping a binder and then sprinkling it with powder, which will adhere. As with enamel on metal, gum tragacanth may be used to make sharp edges.
Enamelled glass is often used in combination with gilding. Mica may also be added for sparkle.
Enamelled Venetian glass was called smalto.
Mosque lamps are made of enamelled glass. They generally have lugs, from which they are suspended to light not only mosques, but also similar spaces such as madrassas and mausoleums. They have a religious symbolism based on the Quranic verse of light, with which they are often calligraphed.
Glass painting involves painting on glass, with glass, making the finished work transparent. Glass fusing is similar, but powders are not mixed into a paintable paste first; however, the result is similar.
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- List of some surviving medieval enamelled glass
- Vitreous enamel
- Damascening (metal-in-metal decoration)
- Enamel cloisonné (glass melted into compartments built up on a sheet of metal)
- Plique-à-jour (glass slurry held by surface tension into wire compartments, no backing sheet)
- Champlevé (glass melted into hollows in a sheet of metal)
- Basse-taille (glass melted over a metal bas-relief, to give variations in hue)
- Other techniques of artistic enameling
- Painted glass
- Glass fusing (glass stacked and gently heated until it melds without deforming much)
- Photosensitive glass
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