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Tips about caring for your glass.

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The Proper Care and Feeding of Your Glass

While this advice pertains primarily to paperweights, it also applies to other types of handmade glass in general.

To keep your glass in the best possible condition there are a few basic rules one should follow:

1). Temperature changes:

While glass can endure very high or low temperatures without any problems, it does not take kindly to rapid changes in temperature. Taking a paperweight, or any other glass object, that has been sitting in a window in the hot sun and plunging it into cold water to wash it is asking for trouble. Pouring a hot beverage into a glass container not designed for it is an excellent way to crack the glass. Likewise, sticking a glass that was full of icewater under a stream of running hot water is a recipe for disaster.

2). Displaying paperweights

A paperweight (or any other glass object) with a large expanse of curved, clear glass can act like a large magnifying lense. If left in strong direct sunlight, there is a risk of concentrating the light (and heat) and marring the surface the paperweight is resting on. For this reason I use glass display shelves or small mirrors to display my weights on. The mirrors have the additional advantage of shining the light back up through the weight and really making it sparkle.

Displaying paperweights directly on a wooden shelf in a window is not a good idea. In strong direct sunlight, the glass can concentrate enough heat to actually char the wood. A small mirror underneath prevents this, while improving the look of the weight.

3). Cleaning paperweights

My favorite way to clean paperweights is with rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol (remember, alcohol is FLAMMABLE!!!) and a clean soft cloth or tissue. The alcohol removes greasy fingerprints with little rubbing and minimizes the chance of scratching the paperweight. Also, alcohol does not leave a residue. The best alcohol for cleaning glass is the purest one available. The percentage of alcohol will be on the label of the container. Use the highest percentage you can get. In my experience, the most commonly available rubbing alcohol is from 70 - 91% alcohol (the rest is water). The 91% is the best for cleaning glass, although it may not be available everywhere. Simply use the best you can find.

Mild soap and warm water (remember rule #1) also work well, as long as one is certain to thoroughly rinse off the soapy residue from the glass. If the soap is not thoroughly washed off, the alkalies in the soap can have an adverse effect on the glass surface. After rinsing, gently wipe the glass dry with a clean soft cloth, to prevent water spots.

The biggest enemies of glass are: sudden changes in temperature, which can possibly crack your glass; and scratches, which weaken the glass and mar its optical beauty. (These are in addition to the obvious problems caused by dropping glass on a concrete floor.) Using common sense to guard against these dangers will help ensure that the beauty of your glassware lasts many generations. This will give those in the future the same opportunity you now have, to enjoy that beauty.

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