Glass

From: Joerg Baumgartner (joe@toppoint.de)
Date: Fri 13 Feb 1998 - 00:19:00 EET


Richard Develyn asked:
>What is the state of play with glass in Glorantha. Does the technology
>allow:

>1) glass ornaments and bottles

Definitely yes. Glass-blowing seems to have originated in Roman-occupied
Syria, but soon spread into the Germanic backwaters.

>2) "bottle-glass" windows

I am not quite sure what you mean by this. Flat glass can be made by blowing
a large glass bottle with vertical walls, then cut off the bottom and top,
halve the bottle and heat the glass again enough to straighten the halves.
The result is fairly flat glass.

>3) clear glass

Clear glass is dependent on the ingredients first and foremost, and second
to the manner of smelting.

>4) flat glass windows

See above.

We know from the cover of Dorastor - Land of Doom that the art of
semi-transparent, coulored glass is known in the Lunar Empire. This would be
somewhat flat glass, htough possibly thrice the thickness of modern window
glass, and could be obtained by casting the glass.

>5) flat mirrors

As plenty of other people have said, mirrors and glass don't come naturally
together. Mirrored glass using quicksilver could be made, I suppose - a
somewhat heavy but feasible variant could be a flat bottle filled with
quicksilver.

>6) sextants (using tiny flat highly accurate mirrors)

Apart from the issue why that mirror has to be of glass (and not gold foil,
a much better substance for any sight-involving magics or aparatuses), would
using a sextant under the Gloranthan sky provide any useful information? I
mean, there are no latitudes around the "globe" of Glorantha, are there?

>7) re-inforced windows

Bolognese bottles (glass which is allowed to cool fast on the outside,
slower on the inside) can be used to hammer a nail into a tree, but burst
apart when you drop a nail into the bottle. As long as you can live with
parts of such bottles as windows, I suppose they can be made. I fail to see
the practical use for such devices, though.

>How widespread is it?

Glass containers can be found along the trade routes which are in contact to
centres of the glass-blowing art. That means that Wenelia, Kethaela, Dragon
Pass get their share of Ralian/Handran/Caladran glassware. The Tanier Valley
would have plenty of glass. Peloria seems to know stained glass for
monumental buildings. Malkioni churches might or might not, depending on the
level of saint worship and idolatry versus austerity. Ralian churches
definitely use stained glass, IMO.

Orlanthi culture would be mostly consumers of glassware rather than
producers, although settlements should have a local glass worker who runs
his shop recycling broken or used-up glassware. Since quality tends to
suffer from recycling, much of this glass will sooner or later end up as
opaque glass - either in beads or as enamel. (At least this is suggested by
the finds of the glass worker in Hedeby, which should be fairly
representative for an Orlanthi trade centre...)

I suppose that pottery will have a greater portion in day-to-day emballage
than glass. Liquor usually is transported in casks of varying size, wine
either in casks or, wherever river travel is feasible, in amphorae. Oil
(where grown? won from dinosaur blubber or liver?) would be transported in
amphorae or casks as well.

Personal drinking flasks may well be made from leather. This affects the
taste of the contents, but so do water-skins (which tend to leak earlier
than smaller variants made of or encased in hardened leather). Quite often a
drink's palate is caused by the container, think of whisky, sherry, or
retsina. Drinks in glass bottles may well be considered bland...

Windows are a luxury. First of all, you have to put this weakness into an
otherwise perfectly solid wall, then you have to take care that only those
things you want to pass through do so.

I suppose that the typical rural longhouse will have few openings in the
walls beside the doors. The interior is quite gloomy, but then there is the
friendly light of a dancing hearth-fire in the centre of the living area.

If you have a multi-storied front, windows become feasible. The most windows
are protected by exterior wooden doors, not always operable from within. I
doubt that window frames would be designed to be opened regularly. (Why
should they, it's hard enough to get a non-moveable cover for a hole in a
wall tight.)

City buildings would have to have windows, to the street front or to the
backyard. Only where "flat" glass is produced, they would be made of glass,
and even then only in the rich houses. Cast glass takes up more material,
but is more durable. Most people would have to make do with parchment as
window material.

Alchemical implements are specialists' equipment, and would be transported
over some distance from master glassblowers. Civilised places like Karse or
Nochet may produce them, and specialist places like Dwarf Run may be a
source for them.

The Dragon Pass area could be fairly well equipped with remnants of the EWF
alchemical lore, which may have come from the Dwarf of Dwarf Run. Remnants
of it include the art of distilling whisky IMG. (And that's one of the more
interesting uses if you hire the Alchemical Transformer - get more booze out
of your mash...)

Optical glass may well be less frequent than optical crystals. Beryl was a
fairly usual mineral for magnifying devices.

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