Friday, July 29, 2011

It's the Little Things

“To see the world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower,” said William Blake. Magnified 250 times common sand which is found found all over our Earth takes myriad forms and striking colors.
What is sand? Where does it come from?  Sand is tiny fragments of rock that have been worn away over thousands of years.
Contrary to popular belief, sand is made as rocks crash and break in rivers and streams on their way to the sea, rather than the ebb and flow of the tides.
Deposits left by breaking rocks in the sea turns to silt and is much lighter so is dispersed over a much wider area out to sea, rather than on the shore line.
Some of the rock is soluble, but other bits remain and as they are slowly rubbed down over time they get smaller and smaller until, Voila! C’est magnifique! 
So next time you are at the beach or a bit of bare ground shows itself to you as sand, take a moment to contemplate it's complex history.
Glass making sand at Nourot Studio comes in two forms. We get it in big bags, really big bags of 50Kg (110 lbs) each.  Times were when we would get a half rail car full. Hence the dilapidated fork lift in our yard. 
Did you know how important the source of the sand for making glass is? The grain size and shape effects the fining of the batch, so a certain color to be melted calls for a certain kind of sand. 
Scarlet Nova® glass by Nourot is made with a particular grain size.  The atmosphere above the melting glass is just as important, too. But let us leave that for another day.
Go see the beautiful images of sand grains at the link below.  Also read the Michael Weland book about the history of sand.  Truly it had an effect on where people settled, how they could develop products for market and even warfare.
Picture: Scarlet Nova® and Red Satin Glass® in the Nourot Gallery, Benicia, California

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