Patterned glass is ideal for aesthetic applications and provides a unique look that can be especially striking in small windows, or when used in conjunction with panes of clear glass. Patterned glass has been popular for many decades and is often found in developments that emphasize a vintage look. Because glass patterning interferes with the clarity of the glass, this type of glass is also frequently used in bathrooms and other places where diffuse natural light is desired over transparency.
Did You Know?
Complete transparency is not always the most desired trait for glass. As with applications like acid-etching, sometimes a decorative approach that emphasizes aesthetics over clarity is what you need to elevate your development or project.
The manufacturing of patterned glass usually involves pressing a patterned roller onto the surface of a sheet of clear float glass, while it is cooling but still soft. Since the pattern is determined by the design of the roller, there are theoretically infinite possibilities for what types of patterns can be produced. There are hundreds of different glass patterns available on the market today, and many more that have been phased out of current production but that can still be found as rarities and antiques. Due to manufacturing constraints, and because patterned glass makes up only about 10 percent of the glass industry, most manufacturers choose to produce only a small selection of popular glass patterns, aimed at customers serving local markets.
The glass patterns available for distribution and used in building projects tend to be quite regionally specific. Some finely-detailed patterns create a frosted effect, coarser than the satin-like texture of acid-etched glass, but similarly uniform and abstract. Other patterns utilize repeating geometric forms or raised branching figures. Bamboo and reeds are also popular designs. There tends to be a small handful of popular patterns that will be used in the majority of developments in a given region. Since patterned glass is most often produced in Asia, many patterns have a distinctly Asian aesthetic, which can add visual interest to a variety of decorating schemes.
The main draw of patterned glass is that it provides an aesthetically interesting solution to the problem of balancing natural light with privacy. It is rarely used in large quantities — it’s common for patterned glass to be used in only one or two small bathroom windows in a large home, studio, or office space. Patterned glass is also ideal for front doors, and as an accent on larger windows.
Like acid-etched glass, patterned glass also offers the advantage of being more bird-friendly than clear glass. Alternating panes of patterned glass with clear glass on a balcony railing, for example, can create a more visible and bird-friendly outdoor space. Patterns can also be pressed into color-tinted glass, for a more dramatic visual effect.