Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Got Milk?

Milk, that all time wholesome dinner table staple that finds its way into milkshakes, scrambled eggs and creamed soups. Or, all by itself, as in the phrase, “a glass of milk.” Other clich├ęs come to mind, “Milk - does a body good.” “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” And the famous, “Got milk?”

Controversy exists over whether the nutritional content and processes used in milk manufacturing deem milk as the healthy beverage. Some people find they are “lactose intolerant.” Vegans do not include dairy milk in their diets, however nut milk is often substituted. This post is not so much about what’s in your milk, but rather, what’s your milk in?

Why milk? Milk is the first nourishment we know as newborns. No wonder milk gets high priority attention as a mainstay nutritious beverage. A glass of milk is often a quick stand-in for a meal. Often, our fast-paced society has us looking for that quick fix of protein to keep us sustained throughout the morning as we rush around. At night, a glass of milk at bedtime might encourage restful sleep.

Few of the generation X have memories of the milkman leaving bottles of cold milk on the front porch, hearing the clink of heavy glass milk bottles knocking against each other or the scurry to get it into the fridge before it warms. Days of late bring milk from the grocery store in plastic containers, thought to be more convenient and cost effective. Cartons that were once waxed are now sprayed with plastics as well.

Some dairies are currently packaging milk in glass bottles once again. Thinking back to when I was young, I cannot recall ever breaking a milk bottle or even seeing a broken milk bottle. The bottles were heavy enough to withstand some bumping around. What tastes better than cold milk in a frosty glass? Why, then, have we raised a generation of toddlers on plastic sippy cups mindless to the fact that children are not learning about spilling as a consequence to carelessness?

Now, I am not suggesting that the school milk carton should be made of glass. I do agree that some caution is advised giving glass to unattended children. But the truth of the matter remains; milk does taste better from a glass. Add a glass straw and you will eliminate the familiar “milk-stache” effect!

As the perils of our plastic choices reveal themselves, awareness that plastics are not the harmless, safe choices for our children or our environment have become more apparent. We now find ourselves on a new quest to seek safer alternatives for packaging and containing our foods and beverages. Clearly, milk in glass is the new “white!”

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The GlassDharma Difference

What Makes Us Different?

While avoiding the technical aspects of glassblowing as much as possible, this is what sets us apart from others in our field:
Techniques used to create glass sculpture using a blowtorch involve rapid heating and cooling. It is particularly the rapid and uneven cooling that induces significant stress levels in the glass that create cracks and breakage. Each type of glass has a unique temperature range in which it may be fired in a kiln. This process is called “annealing” and eliminates excessive stress in the glass.

As you may have experienced, not all glass is created equal!! Not all hand-blown glass has gone through this process and the result is sometimes seen as cracks and breaks, possibly occurring even years later. To further complicate things, the annealing process, we found, is understood “differently” by various glass artists.

At GlassDharma, we adhere to a formula for annealing our glass art with specifications and guidelines provided by Corning, Inc., (the makers of Pyrex®). I have spent hours on the phone with their technical support staff to ensure that I understood this process thoroughly. This understanding allows us to create works of art with the highest level of durability possible and insures consistency with everything we make. We anneal everything we make under computer controlled conditions.

Keep in mind how strong and durable your glass coffeepot or pie plate is. It is made from exactly the same type of glass (borosilicate) that we use in every piece we make! You will be impressed with the “forgiveness” our creations demonstrate when they encounter another object.

Another factor that will affect the strength of a glass object is the fusing technique used by the glass artist. Fusing is the joining of one piece of glass to another (i.e. adding a “Decorative Dot” on a drinking straw). Quality fusing occurs when BOTH pieces of glass are heated to a high enough temperature when joined. If this is not done, (i.e. one or both pieces are NOT hot enough) the result is an inferior joint and subject to break much more easily than when fused properly.

We take great pride in the workmanship of every piece we make. We use exclusively borosilicate glass (Simax®). Occasionally a crack may occur unnoticed before the annealing process takes place. This would significantly weaken the glass. We guarantee all of our work against such rare defects. It is also because these defects are sometimes difficult to detect that we guarantee against ANY breakage. This gives you the benefit of the doubt!
Our goal is to make dealing with GlassDharma a risk free endeavor for you. Our Satisfaction Guarantee along with our Lifetime Guarantee Against Breakage …

You have nothing to loose ! … and everything to gain. This is my personal commitment to you.

David Leonhardt, owner