How to Make Glass Sculptures With Lightning

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Lightning is neither controllable or predictable.
Lightning is neither controllable or predictable. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Glass is the product of melted silica sand. In order to make glass you have to heat up silica sand for several hours at 1,800 degrees Celsius or more. Lightning is able to replicate this same method in an instant because of the heat it sends off when it strikes. When lightning strikes, it lets off temperatures of 2,500 degrees Celsius, on average. Lightning is a force of nature that cannot be tamed or directed to work in any certain way. You can, however, understand lightning enough to know its patterns and use that knowledge to create what are known as fulgurites. Fulgurites are natural glass sculptures made by lightning when it strikes silica sand or rock.

Things You'll Need

  • 8 to 10 metal rods
  • Sledge hammer
  • Hammer and chisel

Know the geographical areas where lightning strikes the most. Central Florida, near Tampa, is the most common place in North America for lightning to strike. Every state or region has an area that is prevalent to lightning. Find the spot closest to you by asking a local expert.

Find a few sandy spots near these lightning sites if the sites are near a beach. Make sure the area is of pure sand and not filled with debris. If the lightning sites are in the mountains, find sites on cleared rocks.

Hammer in a eight to 10 metal rods to the spots you chose in the lightning sites. Space the rods out by three to five feet. You do not have to hammer the metal rods into the ground at any certain depth; just make sure the rods are able to stand independently.

Go back and search your spots after a lightning storm. The metal rods should have attracted the lightning to strike the sand or rock, and create fulgurites. Fulgurites are hollow tubes that are lined with glass and resemble the lightning strike.

Extract the fulgurites from the earth. To remove a fulgurite from sand is very easy. Dig the sand away that is around the glass sculpture and lift it out of the sand. A fulgurite is not extremely fragile or brittle but it is made of glass, so use some caution. To extract a fulgurite from rock can be a little more challenging to chisel the rock away from the glass. A hammer and chisel is all that you will need.

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