A brief history of glassmaking

A brief history of glassmaking

With Christmas around the corner, engraved glassware makes for a special, personalised gift for loved ones and friends. Read on for a short history of glassmaking, from ancient times to modern day.

Glass in ancient times

Glass is thought to have originated in Mesopotamia in around 2500 BC. Glass vessels have been dated back to ancient Egypt – around 1450 BC. The art of glassmaking then appeared in Cyprus and Greece, and we know that it had reached the Italian peninsula by 900 BC. Glassmaking had spread east by the 4th century BC. Beads and bangles made from glass have been dated back to 200 BC in the Indian subcontinent.

Glass in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

After a decline in the skill of glassmaking generally in Europe from around AD 200, it wasn’t until about 1,000 years later that its revival appeared in Venice. The Venetians developed their glassmaking skills so much that emigration of glass workers was not allowed in order to protect the products and secrets. The famous Venetian cristallo, coloured glass and new decorating techniques were, by the 15th century, being exported around the world.

Science and modern glassmaking

More was understood about the science surrounding glassmaking thanks to the 18th and 19th century chemical revolution. The industrial supply of raw materials that had been purified was now possible, and new chemical terminology meant less confusion surrounding methods. In 1830, Jean-Baptiste-Andre Dumas, a French chemist, discovered the soda-lime-silica composition ratio that is often used in modern glass making.

From ancient civilizations to techniques discovered in the late 19th century, the development of the glassmaker’s art has a long and fascinating history around the world.

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