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A Brief History of Blown Glass Chandeliers

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A Brief History of Blown Glass Chandeliers

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Chandeliers are not just a convenient way to add lighting to space. They convey a sense of grandeur and awe. Yes, they are efficient in lighting a large area, partly due to the fact that the glass used helps to disperse the light, but the designs and colors used also to set the tone for space. These days, no lobby or great room is complete without chandelier lighting. With the renewed interest in hand produced and unique items, blown glass chandeliers have become de rigueur for any business or home that wishes to convey an image of class and elegance.

History of Glass

The earliest versions of glass were believed to be cutting tools made from obsidian. Legend says that sailors actually made the first created glass items when they were cooking on beaches. The extended heat of a cooking fire would melt the sand and create glass. The early uses of glass were for practical applications such as plates and vases. There is evidence of glass being used as far back as 3500 BC.

For most of recorded history, glass was a medium that was limited to use by the wealthy. It wasn’t until the first century AD that we start to see evidence of the Roman use of a pipe to blow glass into shapes. Previous to this time period, glass was molded for use in vessels. By the end of the first century AD, glass was a commonly available material throughout the vast Roman world.

History of Chandeliers

The first chandeliers were simple affairs of wood and candles, mostly found in churches and abbeys. These rough wooden crosses were embedded with spikes to hold candles in place and make replacing them easier. These items were practical inventions due to a need for lighting in areas vaster than a normal Medieval home. By the early 1400s AD, chandeliers were being made of brass and the first rendering of a brass chandelier is found in a painting by the Flemish painter Jan van Eyck. In 1736 AD, we see the first use of the word ‘chandelier’ derived from the French word for candle, ‘chandelle.’

Evolution to Blown Glass Chandeliers

The famous Venetian Glassmakers’ Guild was started in the early 1200s AD. In 1291 AD, they moved to Murano. It eliminated the fear of fires associated with the furnaces and allowed for greater control of the glassmaking industry. It took an hour to paddle from Venice to Murano. As the industry was secretive the glassblowers and their families didn’t leave the island. Murano glass chandeliers began to gain widespread popularity in the 1700s. With the invention of gas lighting, chandeliers were adapted to suit the modern needs.

As electric lighting gained popularity, chandeliers again adapted, the ease with which they could be adapted contributed to their continued popularity and staying power. Glassblowing has adapted and evolved with the times. No longer are chandeliers just for museums and cathedrals, home and business owners across the country are expanding their horizons to include the magic of a chandelier in their visions. Chandeliers are available from the most traditional designs to the more whimsical.

How Are Blown Glass Chandeliers Made Today

Some use artists use traditional glassblowing techniques to create blown glass chandeliers. Many integrate materials like silica sand, lead, and ash. These materials can change the color and consistency of the glass. It can also create a range of effects for more possibilities. Some pieces are blown into a mold to ensure uniformity in shape and size. Each production is unique. For a blown glass chandelier, you need professionals who have mastered blown glass.

At the Blown Glass Collective, we have a number of professionals who have decades of experience in practicing glassblowing and creating creations that have pleased clients from all over the globe. We can work with you to find the distinct style, lighting preferences, and overall feel that would work perfectly into your visions.