Throughout history, stained glass art has featured strong biblical themes and been strongly associated with religion. For centuries beautiful stained glass art pieces were confined to the interiors of churches, mosques, and other religious buildings to be enjoyed by only a select few, once or twice a week. It's only in recent years that the art of glass blowing has broken out of its traditional mold, so to speak, and become enjoyed by the masses as art in modern homes, commercial spaces, and art galleries.
The History of Glass
Ancient man is widely presumed to have discovered glass by accident in a campfire. Sailors trading in the Syria area had come ashore to make a meal. There were no stones to support their cooking-pots, so they placed lumps of soda from their ship under the pots. When these became hot and fused with the sand on the beach, streams of an unknown liquid flowed, believed what we know today as glass. The earliest man-made glass was produced more than 2,000 years before the founding of the Roman Empire.
Glass was considered a luxury, only available in small sizes and to the extremely wealthy, as making it was slow work and costly. In value and desire, it was often compared to gold. Over the years, the process of making glass has improved, evolved and refined. Ordinary sand was replaced by quartz pebbles, silica, collected from river beds.
Today, we see glass everywhere we look and observe it being used in many different aspects of our lives. From practical everyday drinking glasses to magnificent modern art pieces glass can be both functional and beautiful.
Glass in Art And Design
Frank Lloyd Wright loved stained glass and created beautiful window designs for his architectural masterpieces. Though his designs have been published and are available to view in libraries, there is no substitute for actually viewing stained glass in its architectural surroundings. It can take the form of etched glass panels, sandblasted glass, slump glass, cast glass, beveled glass, clear glass, colored glass, whatever the imagination of the designer and artisan can create.
In Architecture and Interior Design, Glass Tile in every size and shape imaginable, has become the new show stopper. Glass tile adds an extra luster to kitchens, bathroom, swimming pools, and fountains for both residential and commercial applications. Stunning fireplaces and fire pits using glass instead of logs, create fire dance displays that light-up homes during winter times. Use glass crystals to create the most unusual glass gardens, mixed with your landscaping to create the look of water, or simply just use the glass for patterns on the ground.
Glass has a magic about it that seems to fascinate both makers and owners. The molten, moving liquid is untouchable at the very moment of its formation and absolutely mesmerizing. The craftsman must respond with great speed. Perhaps it is its dualistic nature and paradoxical qualities that captivate us: it's both opaque and transparent, colored and clear, fragile and strong. The work of master artist, Dale Chihuly showcased in the Bellagio Hotel exhibits these unique and captivating qualities of glass in an exquisite dance of colors and reflected light. A perfect example of molten glass transformed into a delicate display of color and pattern.
From its earliest discovery glass has been used in everyday life. Glass brought about change that contributed to the improved standard of living. Glass in the form of windows improved conditions for workers and lengthened the work day. Glass let light into interiors allowing house dirt to become more apparent, which led to improvements in hygiene and health.
This clear molten liquid began to transform agriculture and horticulture. The use of glass houses to promote the growth of plants. Lighthouses, greenhouses, street lighting, glass bottles, cameras, television, our modern world has emerged from a sea of glass.
Look around your home, your office, your lobby, your local theatres and try to imagine how many items are in your surrounding because of this important discovery. Before the time of blown glass, beautiful stained-glass windows and ceilings were created in cathedrals, transforming stories into pieces of art. We enjoy the artistry of Louis Tiffany for his spectacular glass panels and lighting.
Glass is truly a never-ending medium of possibilities for both industrial advancement and the enjoyment of lasting art creations. The craftsman and artisan will continue to create with glass, only limited by their imagination.
Feeling inspired? Contact us for a free consultation on how you can introduce stained glass into your interior space.