A tetraethyl orthosilicate-based, sol-gel glass composition with additives selected for various applications. The composition is made by mixing ethanol, water, and tetraethyl orthosilicate, adjusting the pH into the acid range, and aging the mixture at room temperature. The additives, such as an optical indicator, filler, or catalyst, are then added to the mixture to form the composition which can be applied to a substrate before curing. If the additive is an indicator, the light-absorbing characteristics of which vary upon contact with a particular analyte, the indicator can be applied to a lens, optical fiber, reagant strip, or flow cell for use in chemical analysis. Alternatively, an additive such as alumina particles is blended into the mixture to form a filler composition for patching cracks in metal, glass, or ceramic piping.