A Brief History of Convex Glass

Convex glass, also known as bubble glass, is a type of framing in which the glass is curved outward. While it is mostly used in the restoration of vintage frames, it can be provided for a number of uses in the present day.

Chances are you have come across a portrait or two of an older relative hanging somewhere that stands out from the others. If you take a closer look, you may notice some differences not only in the way the glass curves, but the photograph itself. So what is convex glass, and why would you need it?

It’s rare now, but it was once one of the most popular portrait styles. Between the years of 1880 and 1940, these convex portraits were considered very trendy for your home. Although a complicated process, and one that can not be duplicated today, these portraits were considered a luxury.

They are always going to be in a circular or oval in shape. Because of the nature of the curved glass, they are set in oval frames, and most frames these days can accommodate the new style of convex glass. The most common of these styles was a family portrait, often more serious in nature.

The glass is curved, but the original photograph is as well. Before you decide that you don’t care to restore the older photograph to be fitted in another bubble glass frame, consider the alternatives. You may lose some of the original quality in the process of fitting a replica of the photo to a traditional flat frame. Consider having the photo professionally restored, and placed back into a new convex setting.

You may notice what looks like sketching on the older photographs. In order to fit the portraits to the convex glass, they were printed on a very thin material and copied from tintypes. To make the photographs more enhanced, the photographers would use charcoal to fill in the photos to add clarity and precision. They were often wet first in order to mold them to the glass, adding a frailty to the original photographs. If you come across one in your home you are interested in, it is recommended not to try to remove the photo yourself, but trust a reputable convex glass company.

The glass is bent by adding heat to make it droop. The longer the glass is heated, the deeper the glass will droop and create a three-dimensional look. If you are interested in the convex glass look, but can not restore the original photo, modern portraits can be fitted to be convex framed as well.

It doesn’t have to be used just for portraits. Convex glass can serve a number of uses, such as for clocks or broken gauges. This makes it a very useful process even today, as these things tend to be fragile and easily broken. 

10th Oct 2017

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