History of Glass Art

Glass is one of the oldest forms of art. Just as everything else, at first, glass was made by nature. That was done in two different ways: one is when sand comes in contact with lightning and sometimes it fuses the sand into slim glass tubes called fulgurites(1). The other natural way glass was made is with volcanic eruptions, by fusing rocks and sand into what is called obsidian(2). Interesting enough, obsidian was used across the globe by many Stone Age societies. They would use this type of natural glass to produce sharp cutting tools. Due to the natural glass being so rare, the trade for it was very extensive. However, as suggested by archaeologists, the first true glass was made in coastal north Syria, Mesopotamia or Ancient Egypt.

fulgurites                           obsidian-igneous-volcanic-1061156-o

So how the term glass itself get developed? As history suggests, it was at a Roman glassmaking centre – Trier (present location is Germany). Latin term glesum originated  from a Germanic word meaning: glossy and transparent substance.

There is no exact evidence to when or where people learned to make glass but it is believed that sometime earlier than 3000 B.C was the first time glass was intentionally created and used as a glaze on ceramics. However; it was in Egypt, and not until around 1500 B.C., that glass vessels began to appear. From there, the popularity of glass manufacturing was up and down for hundreds of years until it became a strongly established service around 500 B.C.

The skill of glassblowing was passed on from a master to his apprentice and within family. Right from the beginning, the art and procedures of glass making were closely guarded. Which once again proves how unique and sophisticated glass art is.

Glass was used widely during the Middle Ages. During archaeological excavations, Anglo-Saxon glass has been found across England. Glass in the Anglo-Saxon period was used in the production of a range of objects including vessels and windows and was also used in jewelry for beads and so on. From the 10th-century onwards, glass was engaged in stained glass windows of churches and cathedrals with famous examples at Chartres Cathedral(3) and the Basilica of Saint Denis(4).

Chartres-Cathedral-5                     800px-Basilica_di_saint_Denis_vetrata_05

Since ancient Rome, when pieces of glass were brought together into patterned window frames, stained-glass windows have been well-liked for their effectiveness and beauty. In Europe, the art of stained glass was the most popular between 1150 and 1500 when outstanding windows were created for great cathedrals. By the 14th-century architects were designing buildings with walls of stained glass such as Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, (1203-1248)and the East end of Gloucester Cathedral.

It was the late 19th and early 20th centuries that laid the groundwork for contemporary glass. The Art Nouveau and Art Deco artists Emile Gallé, Louis C. Tiffany, and Rene Lalique, together with the visionary entrepreneur Paolo Venini collectively explored and experimented with many of the processes and themes that now are used by contemporary artists.

Some consider starting point of contemporary glass to be the creation by Harvey K. Littleton, in 1942. It was a small glass sculpture representing a nude female torso. It took Littleton until the 1960s to put together all the basics that truly define studio glass: reliable studio scale furnaces and an educational course to turn aspiring artist (among them Marvin Lipofsky(5)  and Dale Chihuly (6)) into glass artists.

marvinlipofsky                                         dale_portrait

Here at CBD Glass we take all of our work as art because you truly have to be passionate about what you create in order for the product to be successful. We believe the projects we have worked on speak for themselves.


1) http://meanings.crystalsandjewelry.com/fulgurites/

2) http://www.multemargele.ro/content/category/148-obsidian

3) http://museumchick.com/2010/12/chartres-cathedral-france.html

4) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Basilica_di_saint_Denis_vetrata_05.JPG

5) http://www.artbusiness.com/1open/firstth0909a.html

6) http://www.lalouver.com/html/chihuly_bio.html