Zawiercie Crystal Glass Factory Ltd.

Szkło kryształowe - Zawiercie Crystal Glass Factory Ltd.

About glass

The history of glass

No one knows when and where was glass invented. A few thousand years ago it had been observed that if sand and ash were heated, hard, semi-transparent material was obtained. Glass was already being manufactured as long as 5000 years ago in Syria. This tradition had moved from there to Europe and Egypt. Nevertheless, that type of glass was significantly different from the one we know today; it was matt, not transparent and did not have any distinctive colour.

The oldest glass products spotted by the contemporary man are delicate spheres and necklaces, which were used by the ancient Egyptians to decorate their clothing. The oldest glass piece of crockery found by archaeologists dates back to about 1500 BC and the first glass cups and vases started being manufactured more than 1000 years later (about 400 BC).

It were the Egyptians who most likely were the first to start to manufacture crockery pieces from the blown, melted glass. It was also them who as the first have mastered the skill of creation of coloured glass. Thanks to the enrichment of the melted raw materials with the small amounts of copper, the reddish shade was obtained as the result.

About 200 BC the skill of the formation of the shape of glasses and vases reached the regions of the Mediterranean Sea. It was connected to the process of blowing air through a long thin pipe, with a drop of melted glass placed at the other end. This type of pipe (blow-pipe) is used still today.

The glass similar to the material known to us contemporarily was first manufactured by the Romans by adding a few lumps of manganese ore. This allowed to obtain larger transparency and give the glass a more luxurious character.

The intensive development of the glass industry in Europe dates back to the 4th century when the process of glass manufacturing had been mastered within the territories of Italy, France and Spain. Venice and later the Murano island, where very good quality products are being manufactured still today, had become the important glass manufacturing centres. Beautiful mirrors as well as new manufacturing technologies providing glass with considerably greater hardness and transparency were developed in the above locations. All of the manufacturing secrets were subject to the very careful protection, this allowed the island to achieve the position of the unquestionable leader in the manufacturing of luxurious glass products.

The oldest discovered glass products on the territory of Poland come from the island of Wolin and date back for the verge of the 10th and 11th century. The first glass workshop on the Polish territory was most likely established between the 12th and 13th century in the village of Kruszwica. The oldest recollection about glass factories in Poland, in the region of Malopolska to be specific comes from the 14th century.

The most intensive development of glass industry took place between the 18th and 19th century. It was also at that time that Zawiercie Glass Factory was established, which took advantage of the rich glass manufacturing tradition of the region. In 1884 Zawiercie was visited by the investors who, driven with their intuition and excellent opinion of the glass products manufactured in the lands of Zawiercie transformed the much earlier known workshop into a modern industrial workshop, which until today enjoys the position of the leader in the process of crystal glass manufacturing throughout the whole Europe.

The 19th century also witnessed the breakthrough discovery of the glass pouring methods with the application of special forms. Manufactured using wooden forms, which are resistant to the heated glass-mass, their application allowed for a substantial increase in the amount of manufactured glass assortment.

The 20th and the 21st century stands for further manufacturing process innovations as well as machinery modernisations. What constitutes a significant achievement is the gradual decrease of the number of raw materials required in the manufacturing process as well as the application of broken glass remnants as a raw material, which considerably limits natural environment pollution with glass waste. Despite the innovations, hand-manufactured glass still constitutes the product that is most desired. It is valued for its uniqueness, patterns and designs which are impossible to be obtained in mass production.

 

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