Glass is made of silicon and oxygen. But there’s another component: sodium. When a glassblower puts a flame to glass, the sodium vaporises, giving a bright orange glow.
To protect their eyes and see the subtle detail of the glass shape, glassblowers wear special didymium glasses. Made of neodymium and praseodymium, didymium glass absorbs the light of the solar flare, acting as a notch filter hiding the orange colour.
Today the Department of Miniature Marvels is exploring the extraordinary work of glass artist Kiva Ford, who uses his background in scientific glassblowing to create astonishingly small beakers, laboratory flasks, cylinders, wine glasses, vases and more. Some of Ford’s miniature glassware is barely an inch tall and contains even smaller glass objects.