The glass we use day by day has a long history behind. As Caius Plinius – Roman author and polyhistor – said the glass was discovered by mere accident by Phoenician traders. It was around 5000 B.C. next to the river Belo that they landed in Syria where they camped down and lit a campfire, put their pots on the top of the saltpeter blocks they carried as cargo. The saltpeter melted due to the warmth of the fire and mixed with the sand of the shore, generating a new, see-through matter – Tropcial magazine report and interview.
The first findings, which are dated back to the 4th millennium B.C., were not quite as beautiful as today’s glasses.
They almost completely lacked the property that gives the essence of glass today: transparency. The antique glass was actually a glassy enamel, its appearance was blurred and almost always tinted.
They started to use glass for coating and decorating the household objects in Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium B.C. It was in the 1st century B.C., that they discovered glass blowing in Palestine, which enabled more sophisticated and more complex techniques. The Romans occupied a major role in the development of craftsmanship thanks to producing the design of templates for glass blowing. Around 100 B.C., the possible production scale was enlarged to a greater extent and they created the geometric shapes that are now called the Roman glass.
In the Roman Empire – and during Emperor Augustus’ reign – glass was used as an architectural piece, among others in windows and glass domes too, for example in the famous baths of Agrippina.
Around 500-600 the art of glass processing began to develop rapidly as the new procedure of flat glass production was invented. In Egypt they developed the production of Roman glass, experimented with gilding and in Mesopotamia the first school was established where they worked on making cut glass. Two hundred years later the developed technics were written down in many codices and talented craftsmen appeared across Europe, in France, Germany, England and Russia. In the 10th century, it was already Venice that played the leading role; Murano, the Mecca of Venetian glass production is still immensely popular.
Over time, more and more sophisticated and modern techniques were found and started to be used creating greenhouses, galleries, conservatories, and later ornaments or decorative objects. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Libbey-Owens process, the Pittsburgh process and the manufacture of float glass were born. However, something has not changed in the face of many innovations: the love of the ancient craft of glass blowing and the little mystery surrounding it.
In Tropical interview, Zoltán Vasvári, glass blowing master is guiding us to his profession and telling us about where he met the craft, how much time is required to finish a piece of work and how he sees the glass blowing scene and future.
How to get into the glass blowing world?
When taking part at different events, I would always give gifts to my friends. As a native of Szabolcs county, I would give them the most different types of pálinka from the fruits grown in the county. The biggest problem for me was not the quality of the pálinka but finding the proper packaging. This inspired me to make custom bottles that fit the occasion. With the help of the right professionals, I began to master the secrets of glass blowing, they have been helping my work since then and we have been working together.
What captivated you the most?
The artistic nature of the work and the fact that when we present our work and the objects we have created, we see glittering, appreciative eyes.
How long does it take to master the profession?
This a long and complicated question, so I would like to divide my answer to some sections. A few years are enough to acquire the basic professional tricks. However, you need several years of experience and continuous training to be able to create a more complex object. This is only true if the creator has an artistic tendency, but if this is lacking, you can spend a lifetime to learn this profession.
Where do you produce the glass?
In Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county, there is a small factory in Nyíregyháza where our products are produced.
How long does it take to create one piece?
It will largely depend on whether it is a complex piece or a relatively simple structured glass we are talking about. Depending on this, production time could take from six hours up to five days.
How do you see the present and the future of the glass blowing profession?
Glass blowing is now a very rare profession, to my knowledge, there are only 210 such qualified professionals in Hungary, some of whom, due to their age, don’t work.
As far as I know, the younger generation does not participate in this kind of training anymore, so the problem of the next generation is not solved. As I see, small manufactures of quality product manufacturing can not only stay on the market, they can even develop.
What are the three things you would highlight about the art of glass blowing?
Cleanness, uniqueness and creativity.
What could make an entrant fall in love with this profession?
If the entrant’s soul is artistic, they would fall in love with the glass itself, and that love would unfold in the form of glass and would be complete.
Source: Tropical magazine – Emese KOMJÁTI, Journalist