Glass blocks were originally designed to be used in construction projects, but resourceful people soon discovered other uses for them. The glass block crafts movement was born when people realized these blocks could be used as decorations, display stands, and as pretty borders along sidewalks and around garden beds. People learned that by drilling holes in them, glass blocks could be transformed into beautiful lights, vases, and oil lamps.
Some glass blocks have smooth surfaces, while others have irregular sides, and both types can be used for various glass block crafts. Designs can be painted onto glass blocks that have either smooth or irregular surfaces. Appliques, stenciled designs, contact paper, or shapes cut out of construction paper can be added to a smooth block to create a pretty decoration to set on a counter or shelf.
Standard glass blocks can be found in home improvement stores, and smaller blocks that come in different sizes and colors can be found both in craft stores and online. A glass block can be transformed into a stained glass showpiece by using stained glass paint to create a scene on the block. Gluing an object, such as a carving or statuette, onto the top of the block will transform a glass brick into a display stand that will highlight the object with a touch of elegance. A candle can be made by placing a wick in a wine glass, adding several small glass blocks no larger than ice cubes, then pouring melted wax into the glass to cover the blocks.
Pre-drilled blocks designed especially for glass block crafts are available, or the craftsman can drill holes in the blocks using a glass drill bit. When drilling a glass block, caution should be taken not to press too hard, as this can break the block. Drilled blocks can be filled with water and freshly-cut flowers for an attractive vase. A drilled glass block can also be turned into an elegant oil lamp by inserting a wick and pouring lamp oil into the block.
One of the most stunning glass block crafts is to transform a drilled glass block into a light. By filling the block with a string of small lights, then tying a ribbon around it and adding a bow, a plain glass block will glow. Glass blocks filled with lights and used to line a sidewalk or pathway create stunning accents in a landscape.