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About Dichroic

What Is Dichroic Glass?

Originally developed as a filter for scientific apparatus and lasers, dichroic glass was adopted by artists in the early 1990s. The word dichroic means having two colors, which fits, since this glass both reflects and transmits different wavelengths of light.

To form dichroic glass, a thin, colorless coating of multiple layers of metallic oxides is sprayed on a glass sheet while it is spinning in a vacuum chamber. The oxides may include titanium, chromium, magnesium, silicon, and precious metals. The colors that result depend on the thickness and type of oxides used. Although the final product has anywhere from 10 to over 40 layers of variable thickness, the average thickness of the coating is still 1/40th of a sheet of paper.

Each layer will transmit a certain color [wavelength] of light - to see the color, look at a piece with a transparent base. Each layer also reflects all other wavelengths - to see this, look at a piece on a black base. Note that dichroic glass looks different according to the angle from which it's viewed.

Dichroic glass beads are made by layering multiple pieces of glass: a base color, one or more pieces of dichroic glass, and a transparent glass top to magnify the color and texture. "Mosaic" style beads are made with slivers and pieces mounted on a base. The layers are then fused together in a kiln at about 1500° F. Beads are fired with a fiber where the hole should be; the fiber is removed after firing. Wire-wrapped beads are ground with a diamond-wheel before they are wrapped with metal. The number of variables insures that no two finished pieces will ever be the same.

The spectrum of colors and range of textures make dichroic glass an exciting medium for an artist. We hope you like it as much as we do!

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