Volume 39, Issue 3, March  2004


Furniture Glass and Glass Furniture
    Decorating with the Tools of the Trade
by Dez Farnady

I donít want to try to sound like the Ethan Allen of the glass business in talking about glass design but, since I like glass, I want to spend a little time on some glass other than the glazing kind. I would like to speculate a little about glass furniture, on your time. 

For the sake of these musings I am distinguishing between glass furniture and furniture glass in a purely arbitrary manner. I am calling something furniture glass if it is a component part of a piece of furniture made out of some other materials, such as glass cabinet doors or windows. Since these are also glazed we will exclude them.

Glass furniture, on the other hand, is something that is a piece of furniture made nearly completely of glass or the primary feature of a piece of furniture may be supported or held in place by something else. 

The Big Purchase
Have you ever tried to buy any of that stuff? I mean glass furniture. For example, there are those high-priced, ĺ-inch, glass tabletops with the fancy edges with all sorts of exotic supports and bases or legs of small Corinthian columns. You can find these in the high-rent district of nearly any big city.

The biggest sellers must be the furniture boutiques of Rodeo Drive and the slick stores that I presume thrive somewhere in the heart of Manhattan or Union Street. The pricing usually suggests that the glass is not even Starphire or Optiwhite, but some sort of precious stoneówhen it is usually only heavy float with polished edges. Big deal, maybe it has a pencil edge or even a 1-inch bevel but itís only Ĺ-inch float or maybe ĺ-inch. 

Like I said, I like glass furniture, but since I am in the glass business, I canít afford to shop on Rodeo Drive or on Union Street. So I have figured out the next best thing. I buy my glass furniture where I buy the cheap replacement glass for my kitchen window. If no one knows itís going to be glass furniture, they will price it more like furniture glass. Then I just have to turn it into glass furniture. 

Glass shops sell polished heavy glass for a lot of money, but not nearly as much money as furniture stores. 

My Own Collection
I made a wood frame in my shop out of some nice white oak and slapped a big piece of Ĺ-inch bronze on it for a dining room table. I did not get the glass from the furniture store. I bought it from ďa glass place.Ē I just asked for a piece 42- by 84-inches with polished edges and 50-cent corners. (I just hope furniture guys donít read this.)

I also replaced some cheesy painted wood shelves in my built-in bookcase with Ĺ-inch glass shelves with the front edges polished. But first I put a couple of pieces of bronze mirror behind them to cover up the painted plywood backing. What had been a seedy-looking shelf now looks like something out of a decoratorís ad.

When the glass tabletop on my dining room table finally got too scratched from my four kids dragging stuff across it, I replaced it with Ĺ-inch clear for a change of style. The glass is not tempered. It got dinged on the edge accidentally with the bottom of a wine bottle one night and, had it been tempered, I would have been hauling it out in a paper sack. It is Ĺ-inch annealed so it just chipped the edge. I touched it up with a belt sander, turned it over and put it on my side of the table. I will wait for the next big ding before I replace it again. No one knows this little chip is there now, and Iíll never tell. 

Children and Glass Furniture
Glass furniture may not be too appropriate in a house full of kids for a lot of reasons. But, in a house full of adults where the indoor sports and greasy finger-prints are few, glass adds style and class for most applications like shelves, table tops or desk tops. I donít think heavy glass even needs to be tempered in most cases. Even if someone breaks a piece, horizontal locations, frequently on flat surfaces, are not very dangerous and it sure is a nice way to dress up your home. And, of course, if you are in the business the price very well may be right, too. 


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