What is Dichro?
Dichro (or dichroic glass) is a holographic film - layers of metal oxides - applied to a sheet of glass, which a glass artist will sandwich between clear and a dark color (usually Jet Black) and then compress and work with in order to create a gorgeous, splintered, sparkly goodness.
Dichro is very unique in that it reflects an array of different colors when exposed to different lighting and angles of lighting.
Marble by Jason Lee.
How is dichroic glass created?
Creation of actual dichroic glass by the manufacturer is an amazing process. Many ultra-thin layers of different metals (gold, silver, titanium, magnesium, and so on) are vaporized by an electron beam in a vacuum chamber. These vapors are then condensed onto the surface of the glass into a crystalline structure. The resulting glass can have as many as 50 layers of different materials to create its holographic appearance. This coating is a similar process to how artificial gemstones are created.
Here is some unencased, unworked dichro. Note the amazing colors of light that it produces.
How is dichro used in glass art?
When working with dichroic glass, the glass artist must be very careful not to burn the exposed holographic side. He must use a very cool, oxidizing flame, and never touch the actual dichro with the flame or else it will be burned.
Once dichro has been encased, glass artists use it as solid material for backing of marbles or other encasements. It can be worked into horns or other shapes, and it can also be formed into tubing for pipes and vessels made entirely from dichro.
These Andy G dichro rigs are so sparkly that it’s ridiculous!
Jack Storms might be the world’s most premier dichro artist, creating large solid sculptures of dichro, glass, and lead crystal.
What else is dichro used for?
Dichro is used in a wide range of applications besides glass art, from narrowing rays in fluorescence microscopes and 3D projectors to unique architecture and modern lighting applications.