The exact origins or history of pate de verre are unknown. There
are pieces of glass from ancient Egypt and Rome that have similar
qualities to pate de verre, but the exact technique used to
make them is not known.
Pate de verre became popular in the
19th century through the works of artists like Henri Croi,
Albert Demmouse, and Francois Decorchemont. All artists
working with this technique were very secretive about their
processes. At that time artists were making their own glass,
building their own kilns - literally creating every step
of the process.
difficulty in creating glasses of different colors
that are chemically compatible with each other remains
a challenge for producers of glass at every level. I imagine
that the challenges
in the process of pate de verre were so great that they
may have contributed to the secrecy surrounding it. Because there
was little information known or left about the techniques
these artists used, pate de verre all but disappeared as an
until it was revived in the late 1970s.
Pate de verre in the simplest of terms includes
creating a model (clay, wax, or other materials can be
used), making a mold from the model out of some refractory
(plaster and silica is commonly used though there are many
other materials that can be used), layering crushed (frited)
within the mold, and then firing the mold in a kiln.
artists enjoy the accessibility and ease of using precrushed
glasses made by companies such as Bullseye and Spectrum.
With modern technology artists are also able to purchase
electronic programmers, which allow complex kiln schedules
to be entered and used easily.
with glass blowing it is
relatively easy and cost efficient for an artist to
set up a pate de verre/ casting studio. In the past fifteen
years the number
of artists working in this medium has doubled if not
Pate de verre offers the ability to use exact color
placement as well as incorporating sculptural expression.
a model in clay or wax gives the artist the freedom
to work directly
with their hands, while working with compatible glass
allows them to mix glasses together creating ones own
Beyond these obvious choices of color and shape, there
other choices involving glass size and firing temperatures
that affect texture as well as translucency.