You may not give much thought to what went into the production of the repetitive patterned vase you keep stocked with a bouquet of your favorite flowers, or the uniformity between it and others you have seen at the local antique store.
I am willing to bet that you have, however, gasped in awe at a gleaming piece of unique art glass perched in the window of a boutique.
There are some glaring differences between hand blown glass and pressed glass. These differences can be seen in the way they look, feel and even the price you pay for them
Pressed glass and machine manufactured glass pieces typically are created by using a mold, each piece is able to be precisely the same with little imperfection. Much of the time when this process is used a seam will be seen along the edge where the mold was opened to free the piece. This can be pronounced on some pieces or hardly noticeable on others. Because of the relative automation of the process (there is some human interaction needed to create these pieces) and the conformity it yields, products made this way can be produced at a lower cost than other methods.
Hand blown glass has some tell tell characteristics as well! You will not find a seam on these pieces, however you may find a “rod mark” at the underside of the piece from where it was removed from the rod it was created using. (Though on finer pieces this is smoothed down to create a more ascetically pleasing surface) Pieces made this way will always have small imperfections or differences from one another, even if they are intended to be alike. The human element and lack of a mold makes this so. The up side to this way of production is the vast customization and creative options as well as the thickness and quality of the piece. While a mold will largely give you a piece with a uniform thickness, hand blown glass can vary from one area of a piece to another. While some hand blown glass is only slightly higher in price than its machined counterpart, the finer objects, with greater attention paid to detail and technique, can fetch a higher price.
Some styles of blown glass can take an artist years of intense education and practice to master. You may be able to find a hand blown paperweight at your local dollar store, but the technique used to make it is rapid and not as nuanced as a similarly sized paperweight made by another artist in a different technique.
Bullicante or controlled bubble technique
Not going to find this at the dollar store
There are additional differences in the creation and production of glass objects, one could write a book on the topic!
If you are in the NJ area, you can even catch a glimpse of glass being made up close at Wheaton Arts Center!
We currently have some wonderful glass pieces available in house, from hand blown to pressed!