A Short Reflection on Glass.
June 19, 2012 § 1 Comment
Glass as a material has been known to mankind since 3000BCE. The use of glass for the creation of objects began around 1500BCE in Egypt and Mesopotamia. In Egypt, the first glass containers started with a clay core. Molten glass was wrapped around it like strands of taffy. The clay was then plucked out leaving a hollow interior. There are many examples of this type of glass making in Ancient Egypt often in the form of small cosmetic bottles.
Much later glass blowing came into practice. A metal pipe was used to blow air into the molten glass to forced an expanding hollow in the center of the glass. The glass could be twisted and shaped into seeming endless forms during this process. The Romans took this glassmaking method to great technical and artistic heights. More glass objects were made in the Roman times than at any other period, until the industrial revolution.
One of the great goals of glass making was to create clear glass or crystal. The natural color of glass is green. In the late 1600’s it was discovered that lead oxide would do the trick. Lead has been replaced by zinc and other oxides in modern crystal glass because of health concerns.
For centuries many of the secrets of glass making were kept by the glass houses of Italy. The houses near Venice became famous for their excellent glassware. Arab and Asian influences should be factored in. Venice was at the crossroads of east and west.
Coming out of the middle ages and keeping a glassmaking tradition that might stretch back to Roman times were Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, England and even Sweden. These counties had a tradition of green glass or forest glass houses. The houses were sit up in the forest and where often but not alway temporary. The used the materials of the wilderness to create their glass. Compared to the houses of Italy they produced a useful but inferior green tinted product.
Starting in the 1600’s there was a fledgling glass industry in the American colonies.Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts had some of the earliest glass houses .