Crystal & Glass

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crystal and glass

History of Glass

The discovery of glass was accidental, the exact facts are not known but it is certain that glass was used in remote times. The first glass was used for ornamental purposes such as imitation gems and beads among early remains in the Orient. The making of glass objects reached a very high degree of perfection in Egypt and Mesopotamia where artisans used heat to transform natural materials such as sand (in the form of silica), seaweed (soda ash), brushwood (potash) and lime into a beautiful substance with diverse qualities. Until the time of Tiberius, the art of glass making was largely an Egyptian monopoly. It then passed on to Spain and Britain where beautiful glass which is rich, soft and brilliant with a bell like tone was found on the tables of royalty, engraved with crests, monograms and other devices.

Glass Blowing

Glassblowing is a glassforming technique that involves inflating the molten glass into a bubble, or parison, with the aid of the blowpipe, or blow tube. A person who blows glass is called a glassblower, glassmith, or gaffer.

As a novel glass forming technique created in the middle of the last century B.C., glassblowing exploited a working property of glass which was previously unknown to the glassworkers – inflation. Inflation refers to the expansion of a molten blob of glass by introducing a small amount of air to it. The discovery that a bubble of molten glass could be expanded, elongated, and manipulated into almost any shape, blown into a mold or spun out into a flat disk, revolutionized the art of glass-making. It is interesting to note that hand made glass work starts from a ball or a pear shape. From this the forms are endless. To watch glass blown, it is in motion all the time, its ductility, reflections and color present a picture not seen in any other type of manufacturing. From a sketch on a blackboard the piece becomes fixed in form in a few minutes.

Legacy of Tiffany

The modern and contemporary form of crystal as we know it was first popularized by the famous Tiffany & Co. way back in 1893. It was largely the result of the research and development of the late Louis Tiffany. This form of glass radically differed from all glass heretofore produced, and occupied a position in decorative art that was individualistic and not mass machine produced. Its individuality lay in the use of glass of various color combinations, to produce various designs as an integral part of the object, all of which was accomplished in the actual hand making of the article at the furnace and not by any other subsequent process.

According to the foresight of Tiffany, "if glass has lasted for 5000 years, I don’t worry much about the future.