Vases – a History

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.

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 René Jules Lalique, Dale Patrick Chihuly and the Murano-born Lino Tagliapietra.


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