Tuesday Treasures! Mercury Glass Tutorial! (sans mercury)

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I think mercury is fascinating (it’s also an awesome song by The Counting Crows.)

Arguably the most beautiful heavy metal in existence, it kind of loses its appeal when you find out it happens to be deadly, so that’s kind of a downer.  But it’s just so crazy to see a metal be a liquid at room temperature.  This is also probably one reason mercury was used anciently, because it didn’t require heating to make it liquid and easily incorporated into the manufacture of other goods. That’s just my guess.  I could be way off.

Mercury was originally used to make the reflective surface of mirrors, which would probably be considered the first mercury glass.  But what we know and reference as mercury glass didn’t actually use mercury.  Instead, it was made by blowing double-walled glass and filling the center with a solution of silver nitrate and grape sugar and then sealing the object to contain the silver solution.

This tutorial is meant to mimic the effects of this silver nitrate solution on glass, but eliminates the hard parts, like, you know,  blowing double-walled glass, and obtaining silver nitrate, etc.  Continue reading

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