True Colors: Dichroic Glass and Lighting
A staple of opticians and jewelry makers for decades, dichroic glass has more recently found a kindred spirit in lighting fixtures. Dichroic literally means “two colors.” But one glance will show that to be something of a misnomer, as there is nearly an infinite number of colors that dichroic glass can produce.
First, a little science. Dichroic glass is made by taking sheets of clear glass and coating them with multiple layers of metals and oxides. Inside a temperature-controlled vacuum chamber, these metals and oxides are vaporized and applied to the glass with a high voltage electron beam. The exact type, thickness and number of layers are proprietary, the mix determined by the maker depending on the desired result. Anywhere from fifteen to fifty microscopically thin layers create color-shifting glass that looks a little more red or a little more blue at its base, letting some light waves through while holding others back.
This glass is a natural when it comes to lighting fixtures. It starts off with a subtly mirror-like surface when unlit. Then its constant shifting of colors when illuminated makes whatever fixture it is in seem new from every angle. Dichroic glass is dynamic, exciting and mesmerizing. (Not to mention that it’s also pretty entertaining to watch people crane their necks to see all of the different colors.)
The Rainbow glass made by Bruck Lighting is the company’s signature glass. They actually have two different versions of it, Rainbow (on the left) and Sunset:
While a bit more frugal in its use of dichroic glass, WAC Lighting still creates pretty amazing effects by accenting and adding subtle iridescence to patterned glass:
Besa Lighting has taken dichroic glass one step further by adding texture to the already dancing glass. They offer dichroic glass with wide ribs or, as shown here, delicate swirls:
One maker that is particularly excited about the dichroic process and look is Sonneman Lighting. Their entire Dichroix collection uses squares of the glass to frame and show off the inner incandescent light sources, creating an intriguing blend of the old with the new.