by Dan Chase-Gritlefeld
You can achieve the desired display by experimenting with various lighting methods. Utilizing natural light by placing your glass near windows or beneath a skylight is one way to achieve the desired effect. There really is no replacement for natural sunlight. But there are three downsides to natural lighting: 1) limited daylight/time, 2) weather (clouds vs. sunny skies), and 3) changing position of the sun throughout the day (although some people enjoy the variance in appearance from a gradually changing light source such as the sun). These three factors work against you by limiting your control of the light throughout the day. Additionally, when coming home at night, you won't be able to capture the brilliance of your piece since the sun has vanished for the evening.
To counter these obstacles, consider alternate lighting sources like floor lamps, desk lamps, overhead lighting, spot lights, flood lights, and other types of lights. Sometimes you can discover new features of your glass art when the light hits your piece at a particular angle. Remember, not all glass art is the same. So experiment with different amounts of light exposure.
For example, sometimes a subtle, small ray of light is all you need to allow for brilliant illumination. Other times, you may need full exposure. Don't be afraid to get creative and consider using light that is bounced off of a wall or ceiling.
If you'd rather play it safe, just remember these two rules of thumb:
1) For glass that is mostly translucent (meaning light can pass through it), be sure to place your art in a position where the light comes from behind the piece to provide for full illumination. Again, natural lighting will allow your piece to shimmer and display the finer details of your piece. Also consider lighting your translucent piece from the bottom. This can produce a magnificent visual.
2) For glass that is opaque (meaning light cannot pass through), consider lighting the piece from the front, side or overhead to achieve the optimal presentation. Lighting from behind or below, may only produce subtle effects for opaque pieces of glass. However, sometimes back-lit or bottom-lit opaque pieces can produce a beautiful glow.
When in doubt, feel free to stop by Adamm’s Gallery in Santa Monica, CA and ask for lighting suggestions. Or you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.