How Carnival Glass Was Made

The mold. This is a typical two-part pressed glass mold. The photo above shows the mold open revealing the finished piece, in this case a goblet. The mold, made out of cast iron, is closed by pulling the wooden handles in and locking together with the wooden-handled piece front right. The ring cap, front left is placed over the top (lower left photo) and then the plunger (shown inverted next to the mold) is inserted after the molten glass has been poured into the mold. An hydraulic glass press pushes the plunger down into the mold to make sure the glass is completely distributed throughout the mold cavity. Lower right is a closeup of the mold cavity.

Making it Carnival. After the glass has been removed from the mold, any additional shaping, such as ruffles, is done then. Usually the glass has cooled so much prior to taking it out of the mold, that it is reheated so that the glass is malleable enough to shape. While still hot, liquid metallic salts are sprayed onto the surface, giving the piece the iridescent lustre that makes it Carnival.

The glass must be cooled slowly to prevent stresses, so it is placed in a lehr--an enclosed conveyor belt that allows the temperature of the glass to reach room temperature over the course of 24 hours.