THE HISTORY OF GLASS

The history of glass goes back to the first volcanoes. Early man recognized its unusual properties and used pieces of obsidian for tools, weapons and jewelry. Obsidian is volcanic glass.

No one is certain as to when man actually discovered how to make glass. Pliny a Roman naturalist gives an account of the discovery of glass by Phoenicians around 1200 B.C.. The story is that a ship laden with minerals once camped on the white sands of the Belus River in Phoenicia. Finding no rocks handy they used lumps of soda from their cargo. Upon arising the next morning they found among the dead coals a translucent substance that shattered into fragments with razor-sharp edges. Some artifacts have been discovered however, which actually predate this period.

The ancient Assyrians and Egyptians made glass beads and glazes, and left tablets with instructions on making various kinds of glass.

A rapid expansion in the use and manufacture of glass occurred during the last part of the Roman empire.

Later Venice became the center of the glass industry and they guarded the art closely. The glassblowers and Their families were kept under guard on an island. In this way they could control the art. This continued until the 19th century at which time secrets leaked out and were spread all over Europe.

Before the Christian Era all glass was colored. The technology for making clear glass was nonexistent. Glass was so difficult to make that it was considered eq1ual in value to natural gems. After the invention of the blowpipe about 300 B.C. the desire for transparent glass increased. About 1500 A.D. the Venetians perfectd their “Crystallo Glass”, colorless, transparent, and capable of being consistently reproduced.

The term crystal, still in common use today, distinguishes clear glass from colored, translucent, or opaque varieties. As high-lead content glasses became popular, a confusion occurred concerning the word crystal. Crystal still means any clear glass. If it has a lead content of at least 22% it can be called lead crystal.

The basic materials to make glass are sand, soda, and lime. To this metal oxides are added to make colore glass. There are hundreds of different kinds of glass today. Of those, the most common is lime soda also called soft glass which is used to make most of the glasses, jars, bottles and the lead crystal of today.

The other main kind of glass is borosilicate or hand glass. It is used predominately in laboratory apparatus’s and home cooking glassware. This is the kind of glass we use with our torch as it makes a finer crystal.

Sculptures in Glass

29512 N Elk Chattaroy Rd

Chattaroy Wa 99003

e-mail us at rjglassart@yahoo.com

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