Displaying Art Glass

Create the gallery look of displayed art glass in your home or office. The awe experienced, when walking into the Glassworks gallery, is not only from the colorful glass and lighting, but is derived from a well thought-out set of parameters.

First, some basics regarding art glass. The color in glass is made from heavy metals such as copper, reacting with the heat of the furnace, into the vivid colors you see after being slow cooled. Colors range from opaque to translucent. Opaque art glass catches light and reflects back with rich dramatic tones, whereas, translucent glass refracts light throughout, revealing depth of color and watery layers. Both have intense highlights that need to be controlled. Each piece requires specific lighting, a command of space, and surface considerations, to make the natural elements of the glass and its design reverberate.


When choosing an art glass piece, think about the lighting provided in its intended space. Something to consider, is whether the intended space will have architectural lighting directed at the glass, can that be obtained, or are there other means of lighting available.

Opaque glass requires intense direct light to bring out the chemical reactive color properties of the glass. These pieces also require direct frontal light for dramatic results. 

Translucent pieces work well with architectural lighting, either direct or indirect, and also sunlight. Light transmits through translucent glass enhancing the layers of shape and color within. These pieces can be lit from any direction. Sculptural glass, such as paperweights, magnify with back lighting or lighting from beneath.

The color temperature of the lighting needs to be considered also. Cool lighting makes blues, purples and greens more vivid, but makes yellows, oranges and reds turn bluish or greenish. Warm lighting does the opposite, enhancing yellows, oranges and reds, but making blues, greens and purples more mute in tone. One sure way to determine whether your lighting is cool or warm is to check the number on the bulb itself. 3,000K or less become warmer, and 3,000 or more become cooler.



Choose a space that provides the best lighting, and then consider proportions or your piece to its intended space. A space unique to the art piece will create a captivating focal point such as a niche, sunlit window, or a central location to where you can walk around the piece revealing all sides and providing a sense of discovery.


The size of the piece should be proportional to the space its in. Using the rule of thirds, display glass individually or in a group, with the total size or grouping filling two-thirds of the total space. When grouping items, they should vary in height from short to medium and tall for balance and interest. Displaying groups in odd numbers creates balance, and in even numbers, contrast. Group different shapes in similar or complementary patterns to keep that balance and interest.

If whatever space you choose is somewhat precarious, then use a substance called Museum Gel to secure the piece to the surface. When viewed, art should be thought provoking, and the right placement will provide that. Any anxiety of its position should be minimized, unless that is the intention of the art piece itself.


Provide a contrast between the art glass piece and the surface its on or against. Similar tones will cause the art to blend into the space rather than stand out, and will deaden the color.

Place art glass pieces on reflective surfaces such as sheet glass or mirrors. High gloss surfaces such as varnished wood, polished marble or granite, and lacquered finishes also reflect art glass well. Reflected glass reveals different perspectives and provides interesting optical qualities.


Platters display well indivually or in odd-numbered groups, in the same manner as art glass pieces. Wimberley Glassworks platters can be hung on the wall, placed on table tops, or displayed upright in platter stands.


Our design team at Wimberley Glassworks wants your art glass piece to speak to you outside our gallery as well as it does when you first discovered your desired piece inside our gallery. We'd be pleased to consult with you regarding the many considerations of displaying glass. Visit our gallery, or call to speak with one of our associates. 512-393-3316  wgw.com

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