Thin-film physics, anyone? I never thought I’d write about that but — as it turns out — that’s apparently what gives dichroic glass its fascinating properties of light and colour.

Last winter I bought several pieces of dichroic glass from the husband of a beading friend. It was hard choosing only a few from so many beautiful ones. I planned to use them as cabochons in beaded necklaces.

But none of my ideas seemed to work. This week I finally realized they would look their best as stand-alone pieces, without the distraction of intricate beadwork.

Dichroic glass is beautiful and these handmade pieces are truly one of a kind. As you turn each piece light catches it at different angles and the colours seem to change as if by magic. It makes for an eye-catching piece of jewelry.

The most famous piece of ancient dichroic glass is the Lycurgus cup, a rare 4th century Roman cage cup. It changes from red to green depending on whether light is shining on it from the front (the cup appears green) or from behind (the cup appears red).

Today’s dichroic glass is made using a different technique. According to Trezora Glass:

Dichroic glass does not use paints, dyes, gels or any standard coloring agents to create color anymore than a prism does. The fantastic colors are created through the manipulation of light. The multi-colored effect is the result of complex light interactions called “thin film physics”. Thin-film physics are also responsible for rainbow patterns in a soap bubble, the swirling colors of an oil slick floating on a puddle and the dramatic reflections in dragonfly wings. 

Ain’t it grand when science and art collide. ;-)

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