Now that you have seen the many ways people use chicken wire glass, we thought it would be interesting to take a step back and look at the origins of this amazing product.
First, we need to start with chicken wire itself, which was invented in 1844 by British ironmonger Charles Barnard. The son of a farmer, Barnard wanted to help his father by finding a way to keep wayward chickens from fleeing the coop.
Inspired by the cloth-weaving machines common in his home town of Norwich, Barnard developed a way to manufacture a mesh fence out of thin, flexible galvanized steel wire twisted into hexagonal patterns.
The idea took off and a company was born. Barnard, Bishop & Barnard later produced and sold chain-link and other types of wire fencing internationally.
Chicken wire is used today to build cages for small animals or to protect plants from hungry squirrels and chipmunks. Creative people have adopted this versatile material in dozens of other clever ways, including making sculptures, baskets, picture frames and even chandeliers.
As for embedding chicken wire in glass, we need to go back to 1894. Coca Cola was sold in bottles for the first time and the Tower Bridge in London opened for traffic. What is the significance of these two facts to chicken wire glass? Glass-enclosed rooftops became trendy, raising concerns about breakage and safety.
But innovative glass manufacturers managed to come up with a solution. The Pilkington Group, headquartered in St. Helens, United Kingdom, was among the first to manufacture chicken wire glass that year.
The process consists of sandwiching steel wire mesh between two separate ribbons of semi-molten glass and then passing the sandwich through a pair of metal rollers that squeezes the wire and glass together. The result is a sturdy product prized for its safety features.
In the case of fire, the wire mesh keeps glass shards from falling, thereby preventing flames from spreading. It is also shock-resistant; the tough inter-layer wires keep fragments from shattering on impact.
Chicken wire glass is often used in windows or doors in schools, banks, museums, prisons, airports and jewelry shops. You can find it in interior glass screens, partitions, balustrades, display windows and showcases.
Beyond its practical safety benefits, chicken wire glass is valued for its beauty. The shining hexagonal pattern housed in either opaque or translucent glass can create a one-of-a-kind look.
Additionally, this type of glass is resistant to discoloration. It intercepts 99 percent or more of incoming ultraviolet rays, protecting furniture and furnishings near windows from discoloration caused by exposure to direct sunlight. It also provides good sound insulation.
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