The concept of glass blowing may seem like a modern concept due the fact that the glass blowing kits and glass blowing equipment that are used today, are somewhat complicated. In reality though, glass blowing has been around since the early days of the ancient Egyptians.
Although the methods that are used in the process of glass-making may not be as simple as bead-making for example, it was considered to be a revolutionary concept during the time of the Roman Empire.
It is widely believed that the first glass that was made was somewhere between 1200 BC and 800 BC. What’s even more tantalizing about this fact is that the concept of glass blowing was discovered by accident. Phoenician merchants who use to travel throughout the coast of the Mediterranean would periodically make rest stops before reaching their intended destinations. At the rest stop, they would build campfires, along the sandy patches of earth that was on their trade route. What they noticed was that after a long night of maintaining the camp fires, the sand had transformed into a hardened substance. This substance turned out to be glass.
After realizing this discovery, they eventually created a glass forming technique around 50 BC. Even today, in museums across the world, you can see artifacts, and ancient glass blowing kits, that are as a direct result of some of the earliest techniques that the Phoenician merchants originally invented.
One of the more interesting facts about the invention of glassblowing was that it coincided with the birth of the Roman Empire during the first century B.C. And as such, it was adopted by the Romans and served as an essential asset towards their endeavors of spreading its dominance. Glassblowing was favored by the Romans so much so, that it was greatly encouraged under Roman rule. Experts believe that as a result of this, the concept of glassblowing rapidly spread throughout the various regions that the Romans eventually conquered.
By this time, the art of glassblowing evolved from failed experimentation and simple designs into complex, multi-paneled glass vessels that varied in shapes, arrangements and motifs.
After the demise of the Roman Empire, during fifth century A.D., the tradition persevered throughout Europe from the medieval days, to the Middle ages and into the Renaissance. During the medieval period, the techniques that were used in glassblowing became even more sophisticated as the Franks, created an abundance of simple corrugated molds, claw decoration techniques and sophisticated glass blowing kits.
By the 17th century, glassblowing moved from being just a technique that was used to create water vessels and decorations, into flat glass and window panes. Once these were developed, the applicability of glassblowing spread throughout the world and was eventually adopted by distant nations such as Japan, China and the Islamic Lands.
Stephen Herring firmly believes that the process of utilizing glass blowing kits and glass blowing equipment for sophisticated and complex glassblowing patterns, is not only for a source of income but as a way of creating art in its purest form.