Multi glass, which has been designated as a traditional handicraft by Fukuoka Prefecture, is a relatively new specialty craft, having only been designated in 1988. The glass is made using the same traditional technique used in Kiriko cut glass together with a process called irokabuse, in which other layers of colored glass are applied. This unique combination is called multiple layer glass, and the nickname of this technique—multi glass—has come to be used for the name of the craft itself.
What sets multi glass apart is the fact that it is made of many layers of glass of different colors. While regular irokabuse glass is made by applying one other color on top of the main hue, multi glass is made by layering several different types of colored glass with different properties, and the design makes ample use of graceful curves. This ingenuous use of color and shape yields a variety of expressions depending on the angle of the view and the reflection of light, which truly makes multi glass products works of art.
Although it was only designated as a traditional handicraft relatively recently, multi glass first emerged from a hand-blown glass studio in 1919. In 1937, it took home the grand prize at the Paris Expo as a representative example of Japanese glass. A workshop was established in Fukuoka City after that, but unfortunately it closed in 1999. However, the name multi glass was revived by a group of former employees who wanted to pass the craft on to future generations.
Every step in the process is done by hand by skilled artisans. As a result, the shape, size and color of each product is unique, and no two products are the same. It takes a true artisan to quickly remove the candy-like glass from the melting kiln, which reaches temperatures of about 1,200° C and layer it. A wide variety of glass products are produced, including items for daily use, Chinese zodiac figurines and seasonal ornaments.