The History and Art of Glass Making

July 26, 2016

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Glass, as we know it, is the result of thousand of years of innovation and different technique for processing raw materials. It is easy to take for granted as we see it everywhere in our modern life. But when or where exactly was glass invented is hard to tell.

Many years ago it was known that when sand and ash are melted together and cooled again they form hard, semi-transperent material. The relatively rapid cooling prevents mineral crystals from forming, giving us a material that is clear, strong, and easy to shape. It seems so simple. And yet, there are many different techniques for glass making used in our modern life.

While natural volcanic glass exists, the oldest known artificial glass is the glaze on stone beads made some six thousand years ago. By almost four thousand years ago, some communities were making glass jars and other glass dishes using sand molds.

Glass blowing, in which a bubble of molten glass is inflated and then spun and cut to shape, wasn’t invented until the first century BC. Even then, the glass was cloudy and colored by impurities. Colorless glass that could be tinted with additives took almost another two hundred years after that.

Glass making was a Roman secret for centuries. The technology could not freely move through Europe until after the empire fell.

Venice, Italy, also became famous for glass when glass makers from Constantinople fled there during the Fourth Crusade. Starting in the 13th century, Venetian craftspeople developed many of the techniques of modern art glass, including both brightly colored and transparently clear glass.

Venetian-trained artisans also spread throughout Europe and by 1600 several other countries had their own innovative glass industries.

A huge innovation in the glass making process occurred after the invention of lead crystal glass. This type of glass is softer which makes it easier to decorate, especially using handcrafting techniques. Due to the added lead content the crystal glass has a distinctive luster which adds to its brilliance and overall uniqueness of the crystal products. Thanks to new chemical additives, the crystal glass is stable enough to take intricate, decorative cuts without breaking. Because of all these advantages crystal glass became very popular in handcrafting of variety of dishes and home decor items such as bowl, vases, and centerpieces. It was symbol of great taste and a desired item in all homes in Europe.

Until early modern times, crystal and glass objects had to be made by hand, one at a time. The labor-intensive process meant that glass was too expensive for most people to own. Industrial-scale glass making developed gradually in the late 19th and very early 20th-centuries.

Machinery modernization made an important improvement in the glass making process. It significantly reduces the amount of raw materials used during the manufacturing process. Furthermore, glass, unlike many plastics, can be closed-loop recycled, meaning that an old glass bottle can be made into a new, identical bottle. Since closed-loop recycling is the only type that ultimately reduces the use of raw materials, thus minimizing the uses of nature’s resources and reducing waste, glass can be a very “green” material. Most glass is also non-toxic and, as long as it doesn’t crack, can be washed and reused indefinitely.

Nowadays, glass items are part of the architecture and interior design in many different shapes and forms. Products made of crystal glass, both hand-made or machine produced, find their place in many homes without jeopardizing the household budget. They bring a sense of sophistication and style that can last eternity. It is common to see crystal glasses passed down for generations in many families.

Even with all the innovations, people still appreciate handcrafted crystal pieces because of their unique patterns and designs impossible to create in mass production. The long heritage and traditional handcrafting skill of the artists are easily noticeable even in the most modern crystal designs. That makes crystal glass such an amazing choice for home decoration and gifts. 

Dive into our website and find many unique crystal and glass object for any taste and price range. We have huge variety of products matching your great style - vases, centerpieces, decanters, wine glasses, champagne flutes, unique gifts and bottles, both handmade and machine-made. Crystal glass is no longer a thing for the wealthiest homes. It is for everyone with impeccable taste!

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