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Coloured Glass Vases: A Complete Guide

Coloured Glass Vases: A Complete Guide

Thursday 1st February 2024

Almost everyone you know will have a vase in their house. Most of the time, these vases sit on a shelf collecting dust, and oftentimes they're from the 1970s or earlier - and are taken out of the cupboard a couple of times a year on Valentine's Day or a birthday.

On top of that, most of them are plain glass, and only accentuated by flowers when they're on display.
But vases can be so much more - particularly coloured glass vases. Rather than being seen as a dust-gathering family heirloom, coloured glass vases offer unique gift ideas, and can be used as both decorative art and ways of helping to enhance your home decor.

This article will aim to provide a comprehensive guide on coloured glass vases, and how you can make the most of them in your home.

Glass Vases: A (Very) Brief History

The best place to start is in the past - with a very brief overview of the history of glass vases. Vases - and especially glass vases - have been an integral part of interior decoration for thousands of years, going right back to Ancient Egypt, where vases were commonly used in their homes.

It was not long after the advent of glass vases that other early civilisations (alongside the Egyptians - most notably the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Romans) began to add colour to these glass vases.

Depending on what resources were available at the time, these ancient peoples would add various minerals or oxides such as copper to the glass. Copper would help to give a green tint to the glass.

Moving forward a thousand years or so, the medieval period in Europe (c. 300-1500) saw a huge rise in coloured glass and glass art, including stained glass windows.

These windows adorned churches, and because of the sheer amount of churches in medieval Europe, the production of coloured glass increased massively, creating a huge demand for the product.

As a result, throughout the Middle Ages, it became cheaper, meaning that coloured glass was more accessible. However, it was not until the Victorian era in the 19th century that coloured glass vases were generally available to the public.

With the technological advancements thanks to the Industrial Revolution, the Victorian era and
beyond saw fused glass vases become more popular and accessible than ever, and they have generally been a mainstay in people's homes and interior designs since then.

Coloured Glass Vases: How They're Made

The process of making glass vases naturally evolved and has changed significantly since the Ancient Egyptians first began creating vases.

This step-by-step guide below will explain how glass vases are manufactured today.

1: Glass Production
The very first part of creating glass requires making the part that is known as the 'base glass'.

The base glass is made from various raw materials including soda ash, limestone and sand, which are then heated to scorchingly hot temperatures before being melted and developed into what is known as the base glass.

2: The Colouring Process
The next step to creating a coloured glass vase is to add the colour.

Much like the Romans did, adding oxides or minerals was the next part of the process. Depending on what colour glass is being created, the oxide or mineral will vary.

As was mentioned earlier, copper is used to create a green colour, while elements such as cobalt oxide create a deep blue, and selenium turns the glass a dark red.

3: Shaping the Glass
Depending on what shape you wish to achieve is all dependent on this step.

In mass-produced factories, machinery can often undertake this process, but for hand-crafted
vases, the shaping process is (as the name suggests) undertaken by hand.

Other methods which are sometimes used include the very traditional glass blowing, which
involves inflating molten glass into a bubble shape with the aid of a blowpipe.

Another process is called lamp working, which follows the same steps as glass blowing but is done on a much smaller scale with a heated torch rather than a blowpipe.

4: Annealing
The next process is a term called annealing, which is used in most types of material sciences. It is a form of heat treatment.
In the glass-making process, it means that this heat treatment alters the physical properties (and chemical properties) of the glass by hardening it so that it is no longer malleable.
However, because of its brittle nature at this stage, it is important to note that the glass must be cooled slowly so that it does not break or shatter.

5: The Final Touches
Once the glass has cooled, this is the final stage where the finishing touches are added.

This is the time during which glass makers will essentially make the glass neater - they will trim away any excess bits to refine the shape of the glass and also polish it to give it a wonderful shiny finish.

Types and Styles of Coloured Glass Vases

As with almost all forms of art, there are a multitude of different types of glass vases, all available in a range of different colours and designs. We will list some of the most popular below, as well as explain about them.

Arguably one of the most instantly recognisable types of coloured glass vase is the Murano.

Named after the island on which they are created in Venice, Italy, these vases are highly sought after for their vibrant colours, intricately patterned designs and the incredibly high level of skill required to create them.

One of the techniques which is unique to the Murano is the term known as millefiori, which translates from Italian into English as "a thousand flowers".

These beautiful patterns are created by using minuscule, multicoloured glass rods. The rods are then fused to create colourful designs.

Another type of glass vase named after the region in which it originated is the Bohemian vase.

Originally crafted by Czech glass makers in the 17th and 18th centuries, Bohemian glass soon became renowned for being some of the most high-quality glass available at the time - and this has hardly changed.

Bohemian glass is characterised by its rich colouring, and also from its engravings. Most Bohemian glass vases have engravings on them, and often these engravings can be personalised to read almost anything that you want. Ideal if you are looking to gift a glass vase to someone special.

Art Deco
Moving forward to a more contemporary glass vase design, art deco vases are highly sought after today, thanks to their unique style which - despite being more modern than their Murano or Bohemian counterparts - hark back to a bygone era.

Initially popularised in the inter-war years (1919-39), Art Deco was very much a right place, right time design. It also helped that this was popular at a time when there was a booming economy - so perhaps that's worth bearing in mind when you purchase an Art Deco vase, especially in this day and age!

Abstract vases are another popular choice - often picked for their huge personality traits (yes, a vase can have a personality).

Coming in a range of designs and sizes, these types of vases are ideal for those who want to make a statement, or perhaps stand out from the others.

Want a vase shaped like a house? Go for it! Or a vase that is thin at the bottom, fat in the middle, and thin again at the top? Then an abstract glass vase is the perfect choice for you.

Novelty Glass Vases
It would be amiss to ignore the novelty glass vases that are available. Often they are a lot cheaper, but due to their comedic effect, is that really a surprise?

Typically used as a novelty gift to a partner or friend, these vases can be utilised in interior design as a good talking point, or help to brighten up a room after a sad event.

Grandad's funeral flowers placed in a jar shaped like a naked lady, anyone?

How to Decorate with Coloured Glass Vases

No, we don't mean that you should use them as a paint pot, or worse, a paintbrush!

Depending on the type of vase that you select can have an impact on the ambience or feel of a room in your home.

An important thing to bear in mind is to think about the space. Naturally, when selecting a coloured vase, you want it to fit in with the room's decor that you have in mind.

For instance, if you have a light, airy kitchen, a vase with golden splashes or silvers will fit in nicely. On the other hand, a dark blue vase may fit in better with a cosy room in your house.

Consider the size of the vase, too. This can massively impact what you are trying to achieve in your home, and making sure that it fits where you would like it to fit is essential.

For example, there's no point in buying a huge vase which you have to move every time you want to talk to your partner over the dinner table because it's in the way.

It's not only the size that matters, though. The shape of the vase is also another important element to consider. For a traditional home (think of Bilbo Baggins' Hobbit hole from The Lord of the Rings!), a rounder, more classic vase will suit the aesthetic more.

For those more modern homes, which are often much lighter, a taller, thinner vase is more aesthetically pleasing.

The colour of the vase can also have an impact on the ambience of a room, too.

For those warmer rooms, a red vase can stand out and help to create a warming feeling - particularly if the wallpaper or paint is a magnolia colour - think of how red and gold always go well together at Christmas to create that warming feeling.

On the other hand, a light blue vase, or even a frosted glass vase can help to create a lighter look to a room, without making it feel cold or unused.

Looking After a Coloured Glass Vase

Ensuring that you know how to properly look after a coloured glass vase is also important. Making sure that you only ever clean it gently, and without any harsh abrasives such as bleach is important.

It is also a good idea to dry it out thoroughly if you have had flowers in it, so that mould does not develop around the bottom where it has been filled with water, particularly if the water has been left to stagnate for a while.

Always keep your coloured glass vases away from direct sunlight to prevent the colours from fading, too.

Choosing the Right Coloured Vase For You

As has been made clear above, glass vases come in a variety of designs, shapes and sizes, so how do you know which one will be the right one for you?

It is important to do some research first, such as finding out which online or physical stores use high-quality glass, and are sustainable, too.

For example, if you are looking for hand-crafted glass vases, make sure that the company genuinely do create hand-crafted vases, and do not simply claim this.

Usually, the higher the quality of a vase, the higher it will be priced. But it is also worth considering that you should not be put off by a price tag - a coloured glass vase - if looked after correctly - will last for years, and should be treasured for a long time to come.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to choosing a coloured glass vase, research is imperative. Making sure that you choose a reputable company is the first step towards success.

You should also consider several factors in your home, such as where it will be placed, how it will affect the ambience of a room, and what type of design you want.

Looking after your vase by cleaning it and keeping it away from direct sunlight will ensure that your vase will last for years to come - and will stand out in your home for a very long time, as an ornament or simply as a beautiful vase filled with seasonal flowers.

Browse our full range of vases here.