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If You Want to Make a Piece That Really Glows

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If you want to make a piece that really glows, you have a couple of options: glow in the dark or UV/black light reactive. So what’s the difference?

Glow in the Dark: It’s all about the phosphors. Phosphors radiate light after being exposed to a light source. There are thousands of chemicals that behave this way, which is why you can find everything from yo-yos to fabrics that glow in the dark. You can even get your boro to glow.

The most common way to create glow-in-the-dark glass is to add “glow powder” to COE 33. It’s not for the novice, however. Some colors aren’t recommended for boro and others needs to be handled carefully in terms of timing and technique. With patience and planning, you can create a pretty unique final piece.

UV or Black Light Reactive: Phosphors are at work here, too. Phosphors absorb energy and convert UV radiation to visible light – in the case of black light reactive colors, this tends to be a bright glow.

Two of our favorite black light reactive colors are Orange Crush and Tangerine.

But black light reactive glass isn’t new. Uranium glass – or Vaseline glass, as it’s also known – has been used in glass pieces since at least 79 AD. Uranium glass was originally used because of its yellow or green coloring. Lots of tableware and household items were made with uranium glass, especially from 1880s to 1920s. However, during World War II, uranium use in anything but weaponry was restricted.



 Besides, old school uranium glass was up to 25% uranium and pretty radioactive. Yet we made dishes out of it…



Photo by Janne Moren on Flickr

 Fortunately, modern uranium glass is only 2% uranium, making it perfectly safe for working with.

Glass artists have always been able to get their hands on small quantities of uranium glass, but only recently Northstar Glass starting creating new batches, making it much more widely available.

And artists are doing some amazing work. This “Buck Fish” from our friend Ryan Harris (a.k.a. Buck) of Glass Rivers is a phenomenal use of Northstar’s Illuminati.


Interested in adding a little glow to your work? You now have more options than ever. Illuminati is available online or if you come by in person to either the Eugene or Golden retail stores.

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