Glass is one of the most impressive inventions of the modern age. One of its main components being the seemingly humble ingredient, sand, glass has become one of the most versatile and useful materials created. Although considered a recent invention, glass has quite a long history, and overtime, with the advancement of technology, different ingredients and machines were used to improve glass, and to specialize it according to the properties and uses expected of it for a specific purpose.
Glass is a non-crystalline amorphous solid. Before the modern invention of a more advanced version, naturally occurring glass was used during the Stone Age by early humans. It was used for cutting purposes and due to its rarity, was also traded as a highly sought out profitable commodity.
Archaeological finds point to the first true glass being made in the areas of northern Syria, Mesopotamia, or Egypt; locations already identified as being greatly ahead of its time in terms of lifestyle, technology, and construction, throughout history. The term ‘glass’ is thought to have originated in the late Roman Empire, where the Latin term ‘glesum’ was first used, from which the modern term ‘glass’ originates.
Glass was extensively used throughout history, including the middle Ages. The 14th century saw the prominent use of glass in Gothic architecture, especially in cathedrals, with the use of stained glass. This was as a result of advancement in glass-making methods which led to the production of glass being a relatively cheap process, making it widely available.
Types of glass
The 20th century saw the emergence of many new types of glass, backed by the high demand for glass. These included types such as reinforced glass and laminated glass. Laminated glass has since then been used for windscreens of vehicles. This period also saw a revival of ancient glass-making techniques, which broadened the types of glass, thereby adding to its versatility. One such example was cameo glass, which was a revival of the variety of glass made during the Roman Empire. Interest and popularity has also increased in the art of mouth-blown glass, an ancient art that guarantees a custom piece each time, unique in every way, due to it being made and shaped individually by a glass-blower.
Crockery and Tableware
Out of its many countless uses, some stand out as significant due to their application in the everyday life of almost everyone. Such an example is tableware and crockery made of glass. Glass is a popular material from which to produce drinking glasses, plates, bowls, cups and it can be in kitchen glass splashbacks.
Building and Construction
Glass has become an important element, especially in modern architecture which calls for clean lines and maximization of space and natural light. In addition to its very common use in windows, glass is also used for reinforcement of structures, as insulation, and for adding aesthetic accents, as seen in construction elements such as French windows and glass balustrades.
Glass has and is being continued to use worldwide for the purpose of packaging. As it can be molded into virtually any shape, and due to it being a sterile material, glass is popular in the manufacture of commercial consumer products packaged in jars, bottles, and flacons, used in every industry from food, to spirits, to cosmetics.