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Types of Opaque Glass

Liza Martin

Glass is one of the oldest forms of art, dating back to about 3,500 years ago when sand was first melted and then cooled and molded into different shapes and forms for a variety of purposes. There are several hundred different forms of glass; opaque glass describes a category of translucent glasses impenetrable to light.


There are various processes that obscure the clear surface of the glass for privacy or decoration.
Blown glass incorporates colors and swirled patterns for its opaque look.

Invented around the year 50 B.C., blown glass was an alternative to forming glass from a core. Glass is blown into a mold and augmented with inlays of gold and bright colors. Glassblowers are able to work with the glass after it has been removed from the mold to form practical and decorative objects, such as vases, perfume bottles, beads and glassware.


Crackle glass features an eye-catching spider web effect.

Also known as ice glass, craquelle glass and overshot glass, crackle glass was created by the Venetians in the 16th century. To create the look, glass is immersed in cold water while it's molten, which cracks the glass. It is reheated to seal the cracks and then either molded or hand-blown into the desired shape. Crackle glass is used in window panels, vases, pitchers, votives and glassware.


Frosted glass is optimal for creating privacy.

Created by sandblasting or acid etching, frosted glass diffuses light and blurs out the clear surface of the glass, making it ideal for bathrooms, entry doors and window panels. Frosted glass windows may still need curtains or window treatments for full privacy, as the frosted effect does not entirely obscure the view.


France's 19th-century milk glass is a valued collectible today.

Created in the 16th century, milk glass is an opaque white glass used to make plates, goblets, serving dishes, jugs, pitchers and decorative items. In the early 1900s, milk glass was a symbol of the style and taste of American households enjoying the fruits of the Gilded Age. The glass first became popular in France during the 1800s.


Stained glass is a colorful, decorative opaque glass.

Consisting of pieces of colored glass held together in a latticed web of lead, stained glass is a decorative opaque glass that has been around since at least the 7th century, although it has since become an art form and hobby. Glass pieces in shades of green, blue, yellow, red, orange, purple and brown can be cut and melded into shapes, figures or even narratives to form stained glass.