Springfield Glass Discusses the History of Glass

Springfield Glass Company prides itself on installing and repairing top-quality glass, whether you want new residential windows, custom glass shower doors, storefront glass, or security glass at your office space. Today’s blog from Springfield Glass Company takes a step back to discuss the history of glass from ancient times to the present day. 

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How Glass Is Made

First, let’s take a look at how glass is made. The basic manufacturing process hasn’t changed much since humans first made glass thousands of years ago. The raw materials come from sand, which consists of silica, soda ash, and lime. Sand is then heated to extremely high temperatures before it cools. While it cools, glass can be formed into almost any shape or thickness, much as it is today with the manufacturers who work with Springfield Glass Company.

Origins of Glass

Mother Nature was the first creator of glass. Obsidian, a shiny black rock, comes from the extreme heat and rapid cooling of lava after it erupts from volcanoes. Humans began making glass as early at 3600 BC in Mesopotamia, or the modern-day Middle East. The earliest known glass objects were beads, and they dated back to 2000 BC. Beads may have been a byproduct of metalworking. Back then, glass was a luxury item.

Going Mainstream in Ancient Rome

By 1500 BC, glass containers were making headway in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Glassmaking spread throughout the Mediterranean Sea region. When the Romans rose to power around the time of Christ, glassmaking technology advanced to where glass objects went mainstream. In 100 AD, glass was common enough that it became available to ordinary citizens.

Colored Glass

Ancient Egyptians and Romans made small colored glass objects. Stained glass started going into churches around 400 AD, and it became the major art form for glassmaking for the next 1,000 years. One of the oldest known examples of stained glass is from St. Paul’s Monastery in Jarrow, England. A small circular window there contains hues of yellow, orange, green and blue. Artisans made colored glass by adding minerals, such as copper, cobalt, and even gold (to produce red). 

Artisans took colored glass even further by inlaying jewels, pearls, and stones into decorative glass objects. These highly coveted pieces transformed everyday glass items into symbols of wealth and prestige.

Telescopes & Field Glasses

In the 1500s, glassmakers turned to more scientific pursuits. Military leaders coveted telescope glass due to its ability to create lenses that magnified far-away images. Telescopes and binoculars were sought-after objects because they gave armies and navies an advantage in battle.

Modern Manufacturing Techniques

Crown glass, or clear glass made without lead or iron, gained prominence in the late 1600s as a building material. In 1800, steam-driven polishing machines made crown glass accessible to the masses, and window sizes grew. By the mid-1850s, sheets of glass in Europe were large enough to create windows of almost any size. As modern mass production took hold, glass was seen in more and more homes. Many of today’s manufacturers borrow from those earlier processes.

Safety Glass

Perhaps the most important innovation for glass over the past 150 years was the invention of safety glass in 1903. Frenchman Edouard Benedictus dropped a glass flask that contained cellulose nitrate, or a liquid plastic. When the plastic combined with the glass, he noticed the glass didn’t shatter or break like it normally should have. Today, you can find safety glass everywhere in cars and buildings.

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Springfield Glass Company & Modern Glass

Springfield Glass Company has been in business since 1985 — more than 35 years! Thank you for making us your commercial or residential glass installer of choice in Southwest Missouri! Contact Springfield Glass Company or call (417) 883-6555 for more details on what we can do for you.

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