Glassblowing: An Ancient Artform with a Future of Innovation

From the stained glass featured in the gothic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, to the windshields in our cars and the pieces we smoke cannabis from — the significance of glass cannot be understated when it comes to form or function. It protects us, it beautifies our surroundings and it certainly plays a role for the cannabis connoisseur.

Glassblowing is an ancient artform. The earliest recorded use of the material was by the Egyptians in 1500 BC, according to the American Scientific Glassblowers Society (ASGS).

Before discovering how to make the material, humans used obsidian — a naturally occurring glass created by volcanoes. This was used for tools, trading, currency and jewelry, as found by

Humans discovered that when mixing sand, heat and different materials, they could use the resulted substance to form decorative and functional pieces. Man had discovered how to make glass. Since, we’ve used it for art, storage, construction and everything in between.

This finely-tuned field was an advancement for humankind, as it has made the world a different place, states the ASGS.

The developments made by the Egyptians set the stage for glass-making within the Roman Empire where it flourished, according to Glass of Venice. The Roman government greatly supported glassblowing. The artform grew across the region, through the Mediterranean, Syria and Lebanon.

Over time, the introduction of the blow pipe and molds propelled the industry even further. This meant the glassware could be made cheaper, faster, easier. The art of glassblowing spread all over Europe, where the use of glassware for the body and home became popular, according to the ASGS. In addition to the Murano Glass Factory in Venice, Italy, which held secrets to the trade, Germany and France became leaders in the industry.

Though different tools, variations and styles have been developed, the same glassblowing methods are still used today by artists hundreds of years ago.

There are glassblowers across all industries, essential to the advancement and research of each, including; chemistry, physics, electronic and pharmaceuticals. In fact, according to the ASGS, glass and scientific advancements have gone hand-in-hand throughout history, “Some notable examples include Galileo’s thermometer, Edison’s light bulb, and the vacuum tubes of early radio, TV and computers. The qualities of glass and the skills of those who fashion it have contributed more recently to the advances in industries and research in fiber optics, lasers, atomic and subatomic particles, communications and semiconductors.”

The field has been influenced over time by many cultures; European, Asian, and African to name but a few. Now, cannabis culture is making it’s mark on the industry and pushing it to innovate in unfiltered ways that will only continue to advance.

Gone are the days of purchasing pieces without personality or artistic flare. Today’s artists are able to incorporate detailed designs, perfecting their craft to offer pieces that are nothing short of sculptures made to smoke from.

Though there is still stigma attached the the industry, that is disappearing. Glassware is no longer known as ‘paraphernalia,’ it’s art.

Without glass, the cannabis industry — and the world — would be quite different.

Written by Melissa Hutshell

Emerald contributor since February 2016


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