The development of art has been considered as one of the hallmarks of human evolution. Not surprisingly, most of the artworks man has made have been created to adorn his home, be it painting, sculpture, pottery or photography.
Vases that are made of crystal and glass are just the same; they were made for the function of providing adornment to space. Man has been using techniques to make glass for vases and other adornments since the dawn of history, with the earliest evidences dating back to more than three thousand years ago, found in Mesopotamia.
The manufacturing techniques used for making crystal and glass vases as we know it today, however, were inherited from the Romans.
Trading and commerce in the Roman Empire has made the use of crystal and glass vases popular among the citizenry, ranging from clear glass to colored crystal, and this prompted glassmakers to develop more sophisticated techniques for creating crystal and glass vases other than the basic core-form method of wrapping molten glass around a sand bag tied to a rod. Related manufacturing techniques created for more ornate and more beautiful crystal and glass vases are enameling, gliding and staining. The skill achieved by glassmakers during the Roman times is embodied in the world-famous Portland Vase, a vase made of violet-blue glass with seven white-glass cameo figures.
Unfortunately, just like most bodies of knowledge, many manufacturing techniques used for creating crystal and glass vases were lost and forgotten during the Middle Ages. The knowledge of glassmaking were thankfully kept and retained in the island of Murano, then in the Republic of Venice. Murano has a rich source of pure silica sand.
The glassmakers of Murano learned how to mix silica sand with soda ash to create a superior form of glass used for vases and other adornments. The skill of Murano glassmakers gave Venice a monopoly on vases and adornments made from glass and crystal.
Most art historians who have tried to trace the history of glass blowing and the making of glass vessels such as crystal glass are quick to mention the Roman connection in making glass vases a common household name.
That is largely because trade within the vast Roman Empire in the classical age has led to the development of techniques that made it possible for glass vases and other glass items to be manufactured on a wider scale.
Long before the Romans rose into power, glass vases and other vessels have been used for purely functional purposes. Legend has it that the Phoenicians were responsible for the discovery of glass manufacturing, but proofs of its earlier existence have been found in Mesopotamia as early as three thousand years ago. Manufacturing glass vases and other vessels back then is a tedious process.
Known as the core-form method, threads of molten glass are wrapped around a bag of sand or dung tied around a rod. Once the glass has dried, the bag is scraped out. The tedious process of making glass vases and glass vessels has limited the use of such glass products to the rich and to the members of the noble class. In Egypt, only the pharaoh, the high priests, nobles and the rich merchants may possess such glass items.
During the time of the Romans, however, the technique now known as glass blowing has been invented.
Not only did glass blowing increase the speed and efficiency of the process by which glass vases and other glass vessels are made, it also improved the quality of the finished product. The process allowed more people, not just the nobles and the rich people, to own a glass vase or any other glass vessel.
Other than this, glass blowing also opened avenues of creativity for glass manufacturers. The cuts made on the mold used for making glass vases and glass vessels left imprints on the finished product, and the cuts could be made in different designs.
Early Roman glass blowers also learned to put inlay on the glass vases that would enhance the beauty of the glass.
The Roman connection is an important aspect in the history of creating glass vases. It is the catalyst that enabled the art to grow and spread.
Today, the art of making crystal and glass vases are among those being preserved and perpetrated by glass artists. Among the major proponents in the development of this art are Harvey Littleton, founder of the American Studio Glass Movement, and Louis Comfort Tiffany, known for his handmade Favrile iridescent glass. Other well-known and influential glass artists are Rene Jules Lalique, Dale Patrick Chihuly and the Murano-born Lino Tagliapietra.
About the Author (text)Mark S. is the president of http://www.crystal-shoppe.com and has an interest in the craftsmanship, artistry, and history of crystal.