Few things are as lovely as a carefully crafted piece of glassware glistening in the sun.
The art of glass making has endured through millennia and the skill is still passed down in families.
A Short History of Glass Blowing
The tradition of glassblowing traces its lineage to the Syrians in the first century BC.
When the Romans discovered this treasure,they found ways to incorporate glass blowing for making ordinary items. As the Roman Empire expanded, the knowledge of glass and glass blowing spread to other parts of the world. As time passed, newer glass blowing techniques made it less difficult. The techniques used today originated in the areas of Palestine, Israel, and Lebanon. Still, there was no significant change in the craft until around the first century AD when the Romans perfected the use of a mold to create uniform articles of glass.
Glass blowing continued, largely unchanged until the 1820’s. A major advance in glass blowing came about when Benjamin Bakewell created the process of pressing glass. The process continued to evolve and improve with little significant change. The methods, techniques, and equipment of glassblowing have remained basically the same for hundreds of years.
Types of Glass Blowing
Glass blowing has two main techniques free blowing and mold blowing. Both begin with raw glass materials heated to approximately 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The exact mix of raw materials used in glass making varies based on the type of glass being produced;the composition is typically a mixture of fine white sand,silica, limestone, soda ash and other chemicals to color the glass. The differentiation between the two glass blowing techniques occurs after the raw material is heated.
Free blowing is the oldest glass blowing technique, dating back to the first century BC and changing very little since. In free blowing, the molten raw glass making materials are placed on the tip of a hollow metal blowpipe. The craftsman blows small puffs of air into the pipe and turns the pipe according to the effects he wants to achieve. This method gives the artist the greatest amount of artistic control.
Mold blowing begins when the molten material is placed into a metal or wooden mold and then blown to expand to fit the mold. This type of glass blowing is the most common way to create functional everyday glass pieces. It is also the preferred way to achieve uniformity in design and detail.