What is Milk Glass?

Malcolm Tatum

Milk glass is a form of glass that is characterized by a white or milky appearance. As one form of opaque glass, it often has an appearance that is very similar to white porcelain, although the finish may appear to be more reflective. The glass has been popular for centuries, and is often used in everything from dinner plates to goblets.

Many believe that milk glass was created in Venice, Italy.
Many believe that milk glass was created in Venice, Italy.

There is some difference of opinion regarding the exact origins of milk glass. Many sources indicate that it was first developed as early as the 14th century. Venice, Italy, is often cited as the home for the production of the first accessories made from milk glass, with the production of items intended for use in more prosperous households. Other sources indicate that its first appearance was in the 15th century, however.

While the origins of milk glass are open to debate, there is general agreement that it was first created by introducing tin oxide into the smelting process used to create glass products. The tin oxide interacts with the chemical compounds of glass as it forms to permeate the material with the whitish appearance. The glass retains the natural reflective nature that is inherent with most forms of glass, which aided in making it highly favored.

Milk glass has remained popular over the last several centuries. There are many companies today that use it to create of all sorts of dinnerware, including plates and serving dishes. The glass can also be used for vases and other decorative containers used throughout the household. The simplicity of the color often makes it an attractive decorating option. Because the glass does usually clash with other colors, pieces can be designed that will fit into the visual harmony of just about any decorating strategy.

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