Is clear a colour?

Last week, I made a pair of wine glasses for a friend and asked her “out loud on Facebook” what colour she would like for the stems. We settled on my interpretation of turquoise and pink, but along the way, the option of clear was suggested.

Clear! Many borosilicate glass colours will do strange things in the flame, and adding clear to them can give a real sense of depth and texture. It can shield parts of the colour from the flame atmosphere, effectively giving a range of effects from one starting point. However, that doesn’t make it a colour.

I think that, potentially, there is a divide between those who work mainly with clear glass and those who use colour. Of course, anyone who mainly works with clear glass will add hints of colour and it would be impossible for anyone working with coloured glass not to use a fair bit of clear. But it is still true that for many flameworkers, one or the other will be their main love. Clear glass is – well, clear. It plays with the light, can be texture or have air bubbles added to encence this effect, allows the form of the piece to speak for itself. Small hints of colour, where they are added, provide counterpoints, with the clear glass enhancing their impact. Too much colour is distracting.

Except that, if you love colour, it isn’t. It’s colour. It’s fun, it also plays with the light and can be textured or have bubbles. It creates a mood, it works with the form of a piece to add an extra dimension.

***  Water is clear, and very beautiful. But it enhances the colours around it as much as they work with it. One without the other is only a half. ***

For me, a colour-lover, colour is difficult to work without, and I would personally argue that, for something like a handmade wine glass in particular, a coloured stem is near-indispensible. To me, it is what differentiates each glass from the average, making it special and unique. The coloured stems (mixed as they are with clear glass….) have an internal texture and pattern that makes them more of a pleasure to use.

I heard the other day that the Romans used clear wine glasses because they enhanced the colour of the wine, adding to their appreciation of a good drink. For me, add a coloured stem and you gain an even higher appreciation.

handmade beer glass with air twist stem