Glass. We take it for granted, don’t we? Before Cathy chose this month’s theme, I really didn’t give much thought to glass. But as I pondered this post, my curiosity got the best of me.
First, I consulted this Wikipedia article to find a little bit about the history of glass. I won’t bore you with a lot of details – and there are a lot. If you’re interested, you can read the article. Here are some tidbits, though.
It seems that the origin of glass can be traced back as far as 3500 BC to Mesopotamia, more specifically, present day Iran and northern Syria. With all the turmoil over there, it’s easy to forget that it really is the cradle of civilization. And needless to say [but I’ll say it anyway], because of the fragile nature of glass, it was considered a delicacy.
Moving forward in history, we find that colorless glass probably made its debut in the 9th century BC. Clear glass mirrors were introduced in the 11th century in Arab Islamic Spain. And of course, the Romans were not to be outdone. Stained glass made an appearance in the 12th century and as we know, there are many surviving examples of this incredibly beautiful craft.
The article gives extensive history of glass in regions around the world but the one I found most interesting is glass industry in Murano, Italy, a tradition which survives today. By the 14th century, the glass makers of Murano developed new techniques which allowed them to make dinnerware and mirrors. This enterprise actually began in Venice, but during the Venetian Republic, the government was so afraid of fires running rampant through the city, which had mostly wood structures, that glassmakers were ordered to move to the island of Murano, across the canal. It was forbidden for glassmakers to leave Murano but many took the risk anyhow. Thus, this craft found its way to England and Netherlands, allowing the industry to spread around the world.
I don't have any Murano glass but you can bet the next time I visit there, I'll do my best to bring something home!
There’s so much more in the article but I cherry picked what I found most interesting. It did lead me to think, though, of all the ways in which we use glass every day and probably never even give it a thought. So I trolled through my archives and was surprised to find that I had so many photos of glass and how we use it.
Glass allows us to let the sunshine into our homes and to see the weather and scenery outdoors.
How would we enjoy our favorite beverages without glass?
Glass provides vessels for flowers and other decorative items.
Can any photographer resist the sparkle of sunlight on glass?
And last, but not least, glass, a.k.a. lenses, allows us to pursue our passion in photography. Sounds like a good reason to celebrate glass! Let's continue the celebration by filling our Flickr gallery and Instagram feed with the beauty and wonder of glass.
If you’re interested in digging deeper, there is a vast archive of information available about the origins of glass. Another article that captured my interest was found on this website from Corning Museum of Glass.