Fun Facts About Glass Blowing

Glass blowing is an ancient art invented thousands of years ago that is still in  practice today. Glass blowing cannot be done by machine and must be performed by  a skilled artisan. Although modern manufacturers of glass bottles and other  glass products use the same recipe for the glass material, they often use  machines and molds to shape the glass instead of blowing the glass by hand. The  level of skill and craftsmanship that goes into glass blowing makes it a more  expensive and time-consuming process.


  • The art of glass blowing originated in the Middle East about 2000 years ago,  according to the book Glass. Glass blowing was invented when Middle Eastern  glassmakers created a metal pipe they used to shape the glass. This technique  created the clear, translucent glass that we have today. Up until then, glass  was made primarily by grinding and casting glass materials which created an  opaque pottery-like glass. Romans adopted the glassmaking technique and used it  heavily in their expansive empire. The art of making glass came to the New World  when Captain John Smith brought glassblowers from Europe to make glass in the  Jamestown colony.


  • The tools and glass-blowing technique used today are the same ones used  thousands of years ago.  Glass makers are known as gaffers. Gaffers use a recipe  invented by ancient Egyptians to create the glass material, according to the  Cornell Center for Materials Research. This recipe includes lime, sand and soda  ash. The ingredients are mixed together and heated until they liquify. The  gaffer then inserts the end of a metal tube, known as a blowpipe, into the hot  liquid glass and twists it around so the glass gathers on the end. The gaffer  blows into the tube and creates a glass bubble. The bubble is shaped into a  vase, sculpture or bowl and allowed to cool and  solidify.


  • Besides bowls and water containers, Romans also used their glass-blowing  technique to make glass windows by cutting and flattening a long piece of blown  glass. Remnants of glass windows have been found in the ancient Roman town of  Pompeii, according to the book Glass. Roman glass windows eventually inspired  Europeans to use glass-blowing techniques to create brightly-colored stained  glass windows in churches, cathedrals and castles during the Renaissance period.  Due to the expense, skill and time involved in making hand-blown glass, most  hand-blown glass made today is used in expensive lamps, chandeliers, glass  jewelry, vases and art.


  • Murano glass from Venice is one of the most well-known types of blown-glass.  Glass makers in Venice held a monopoly on the blown-glass trade for centuries  because of their secret glass-blowing techniques such as threading glass with  strands of gold, making imitation gemstones out of glass and creating  crystalline glass. In the year 1286, the doge of Venice moved the city’s  glass-making industry to the island of Murano to protect the secret Venetian  glass-blowing techniques, according to the book One Hundred Greatest Scientific  Inventions Of All Time. Eventually other countries developed newer glass-blowing  techniques which ended the Murano monopoly.



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