The History Of Glass Blowing - From Italy To Australia

Amy Grenfell / Glass Blown Pendants / Published February 17 2020

Luxury Italian Glass

At Lighting Collective we have an exciting assortment of Italian mouth-blown pieces. One of our favourites is the Italian brand Vistosi.

When we think about glass blowing instantly our minds go to the Italian city of Venice and its ever-famous Murano region. History shows evidence of glass blowing in this area dating right back to the early Roman empire.

The Vistosi family began their glass blowing production right in the heart of Murano and became the front runners in creating clear glass. This lead to Murano glassmakers becoming the first and only producers of mirrors in Europe in these very early days.  

Renowned for mastering ancient and traditional craftsmanship with a focus on minimalism, functionality, and simplicity every piece showcases the family history of glass manufacturing with a respect for durability and tradition. From one generation to another the family developed its position and established its own brand in the world of Venetian artisan glass.

Collaborations with major designers worldwide have always played a central role at Vistosi. Because of this their range is constantly fresh and innovative. Bringing new techniques and introducing new surface treatments, ever changing textures with modern production processes such as precision sandblasting.

They also have an impressive collection of projects which has seen them creating customised products. For example, working with big fashion labels such as Bulgari and Gucci to bring their design aesthetic and brand flare to life in glass.

Whilst Vistosi is one of our favourite Italian made, blown glass ranges, Lighting Collective has curated a collection which offers a broad range of artisan, blown glass pendants from Italy.

One day I stood in front of a lamp in stunned silence and with a feeling of emptiness inside. No, I wasn't afraid of those who spoke of ugliness, but of those who were capable of standing in silence with indifference... I could have even laughed about something ugly after all...

- Vetreria Vistosi

Contemporary Australian Glass

We have really enjoyed seeing some truely talented and progressive Australian glass blowers arriving on the scene. With them, these artists are bring new ideas of shape and style paired with versatile and refined skill sets. One of the most successful parnterships to arise are the boys from SØKTAS.
Oliver Höglund and Ryan Roberts are the creative minds behind SØKTAS, and the company’s inception began in Oslo, Norway where they first met in 2015. Oliver focuses on creating and designing the unique pieces, while Ryan operates the business. SØKTAS is a reflection of both their stories and visions. Oliver’s father, Ola Höglund and grandfather, Erik Höglund worked at the renowned Kosta Boda Glassworks in Sweden, and the craft has been passed down through the generations.

The skills and techniques learned by Oliver since 2001 have allowed him to develop his craft and create his own signature style. The process of hand-blowing glass is rigorous and intense.
The organic handmade glass lights are made in Currumbin, Gold Coast. Each light is hand-crafted with passion by Oliver to be a one-of-a-kind item, shaped and handblown from molten glass at temperatures exceeding 1000° C into a signature style. Every new piece carries flaws and imperfections, adding character and assuring that no two pendants will ever be the same.

Being able to create lighting from molten glass is a challenge and a very rewarding process. Every piece made has subtle differences to the next.

- Ryan Roberts

The History Of Glass

Before people learnt to make glass, it was made by nature, in two ways. The first way is when lightning strikes sand, it fuses it into slender glass tubes called fulgurites. Volcanic eruptions also fuse rocks and sand into a glass called obsidian. Early people shaped obsidian into various objects, including adornments, weapons, and money. According to legend, man first made glass about 2000 BC. Phoenician sailors set up a camp on the sandy beach of a river in Syria and built a fireplace to support the cooking pots for their evening meal, using pieces of sodium carbonate found in their cargo from Egypt. The next morning they discovered that the sodium had fused with the sand and formed clumps of a clear substance – glass.

Making glass in these early days was difficult and expensive. As glass blowing and pressing had not been discovered yet, clay vessels used for melting the glass were not of good quality, and it was difficult to generate sufficient heat to facilitate melting. Eventually, glassmakers learnt to make coloured glass and began to create glass jewellery, and tiny vessels, which were considered as precious as fine jewels! The blowpipe was invented around 30 B.C. This phenomenal invention was a revolutionary event in the history of glass making. Since then the tools and techniques used to form molten glass have changed very little over the centuries.

History shows the craft of glassblowing was passed from father to son, and from master to apprentice. From its beginnings, the formulas and procedures used in glassmaking were closely guarded. It is rumoured that at times in history, the penalty for disclosing secret techniques was death!

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