For Your Windows


If I had to create a list of my favorite window or glass topics, greenhouses might have to be on the top. I have talked about them a few times here, but I really do think they deserve a lot more attention.

My first business was an indoor plant store in the 1970’s. The best part of it was the structure itself. Even though it was a kiosk in a mall, it was built with the remnants of a very old greenhouse, old glass and neat wood gutters. I sure wish I had those materials now to build a replica in my back yard. I would love seeing it outside of the windows in my sunroom/office. Pretty weird, I don’t even have a picture of that neat little building.

It is very likely that solar energy was known about and greenhouses existed before 100 AD in Pompeii, before it was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Through the centuries, these glass buildings have housed, with light, heat and humidity, things of beauty and practicality.

One of the more noteworthy “glass houses” is this one in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Palm House was built in 1839. Separated wings of the structure have different environments to accommodate plants with different demands.

One of the plants on display is a 400 year-old Xanthorrhoea. Wow, I would go crazy looking at plants in that greenhouse. Even in the 1800’s this place often boasted 10,000 visitors a day!

No need to dress up greenhouse windows with anything, and cleaning them can be a real pain(pun intended), but I love them just the same.

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In my ongoing quest to find unique products related to windows and glass, I ran into some interesting information about bullet proof glass. Do you know there is a film you can buy to put on your windows that pretty much makes them bulletproof?  I probably will never sell any in my online store since the cost is pretty darn high. Wonder what the market is like for such a critter.

Bullet proof glass has a very interesting history, starting with the fact that the discovery of the lamination process involved with making it happened accidentally when in 1903 when a French chemist dropped a glass beaker on the floor. The beaker had been coated with a certain substance that kept it from shattering and that led the way to creating plastic/glass combinations. Hence, we have automobile windshields, hurricane resistance glass and bullet proof windows.

One of the most intriguing examples of bullet proof glass involves the MONA LISA. Because there were some instances of attempted vandalism toward the original painting, she is now displayed with bullet proof glass. She must have been a strong woman; those two nasty events did not damage her one bit.

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It sure is nice that glass is one of the easiest things to recycle. Now if we would all do it, that would be even better. Did you know  that glass takes between 1 and 2 million years to decompose, or maybe even longer, but who cares once you get to the first million. This is compared to plastic, which in landfill can take up to 1000 years, and to aluminum which will maybe do it 80 to 200 years.

Glass is mostly made of sand. The recycling process involves breaking it into small pieces called “cullet” and then melting it down to reshape into something new. This can be done over and over with the same glass. Black obsidian glass from volcanos has probably been around as long as Earth itself. Bottom line, glass may transform, but it isn’t going to disappear.

This old bottle is doing some transforming with a little color .

The process for recycling glass is easier on the environment than the manufacturing of new glass, which is one of the main reasons to recycle glass. Keep in mind that just reusing glass containers solves this problem too.  Start the new year out with recycling or reusing glass containers. If you throw them out  they may come back to haunt you  a couple million years from now.

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My introduction to the word “nano” probably occurred in the 1970’s when I heard Mork refer to a nanosecond on television. Just a few years ago, I met a woman who was on jury duty who was a technical writer. Her assignment at the time was writing about machines that were so minute you could not even see them. Now that would be interesting to witness and write about, especially since you can’t see anything.

Well, there really are nano-windows, and I do not mean ones that are so small you cannot see them, let alone decorate or clean them. But then, the whole appeal of a nano-window is that it never needs cleaning. Thanks to nano-technology we now have nano-fibers, and those fibers  integrated into the glass make it repel dirt and oil, and with the help of a little rain the window can actually self-clean.

The cost of such windows is prohibitive, and even though it might be practical for a tall building, at home I would still recommend you HIRE A PROFESSIONAL to clean your windows.

I hope you can see the picture I inserted between the first 2 paragraphs. It’s a bit nano.



I love it when research goes around in a circle and ends up in very interesting places.  Even better when I get to bring it back to window trivia.

When my right brain gets a certain itch, I love to color. I find it very therapeutic. A few years ago I was introduced to Mandalas, and they became my favorite coloring project. Below is just one example of one you can download and color at the Free Mandala site.

This morning I was learning about Rose windows. They are circular windows mainly used in churches with a Gothic architectural style. They actually look similar to what you see when you look into a Kaleidoscope.  Here is a Rose window from over the altar at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel. Make sure you spend some time reading about them; the history is very intriguing.

Both Kaleidoscopes and Mandalas are mentioned in information concerning Rose windows. To be honest, I had never thought about the connection between Kaleidoscopes and Mandalas, but I have a lot of affinity for both. I need to study more on this two subjects and blog more later for sure.

In the meantime, I am checking out this online store for a new Kaleidoscope, and while I am waiting for it’s arrival I think I will get out my watercolor pencils and color a few Mandalas.

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Since it is the season for decoration and color, it must be time for colorful glass trivia. Besides that, you know I love a reason to decorate my blog.

You might think that the largest stained glass windows would be found in some other country, but not the case. For years JFK airport in New York held that honor with one that was longer than a football field and 20 feet high.

To the dismay of many the 900 panels were dismantled in 2008.

Now, still in the US, there are two other structures that display the largest. If you visit the mausoleum at Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois you will see the 2,448 panels and 22,381 square feet that make up the largest in the world.

But, the largest one in a church is in Covington, Kentucky at St Mary’s Cathedral of the Assumption. there you will find 117 figures displayed in an amazing 24 ft wide, 67 ft long window.

These window certainly don’t need any more dressing up. I may need to investigate how they get cleaned however. In the meantime, enjoy them as colorful decoration on my blog. Pretty colorful trivia too!

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I mentioned a few posts back how much fun I am having researching the history of architectural glass. Actually the history of any glass is very interesting, so I will add some of that as well in future entries.

It really is amazing how plain window glass was so challenging to manufacture. It was actually quite rare until the 19th century, and even then only the very wealthy could afford. That reminds me of the oldest house still standing in the USA, pretty windowless. My dear brother is shown here pretending like he is heading home when we visited Santa Fe last time. Needless to say our Albuquerque, family-owned window cleaning business has never washed any windows there.

Some of the original  windows to keep weather out, but light still coming in, were made by the crown glass method, where a big glob of glass is blown and then spun on a table before it cools. This creates a dimple with concentric circles expanding out. The panes could only be smaller in size, and it was very costly. This example is probably somewhere in the 16th century.

Not sure even professional window cleaners would want to wash those!

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Well, I made it home from my 2000 miles of road trip. For some reason, I was inspired to research the subject of glass while online this past week. That led to a new category: GLASS TRIVIA.

I find it intriguing that manufacturing flat, window glass happened later than other uses of glass over the centuries. More on that later.

This is a fun fashion fact from the Chicago World’s Fair held in 1893. Edward Libbey, one of the first glass manufacturers, wanted to add his works to the many inventions exhibited there. He spent $200,000.00 on a glass furnace. With all the really exciting adventures at the fair, nobody was interested in watching men sweat over the furnace to make glass. His trump card was the technology of spun glass, and the creation of the first dress out of the expensive fabric. A famous Broadway actress, Georgia Cayven, modeled the gown, and a Spanish princess, Infanta Eufalia, soon became it’s biggest promoter.

Libbey insisted these dresses could be comfortable to wear, but he did have to cheat a bit to accomplish that by using some fine silk as well.I did have one thing cleared up for sure; I found some references about Cinderella’s infamous slippers. I always thought it peculiar that she wore “glass slippers.”  I am fairly certain they were made with a spun glass fabric. Glass slippers always sounded a bit dangerous to me.

Glad that got straightened out!