The Differences Between Handmade and Machine-Made Glassware

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The Differences Between Handmade and Machine-Made Glassware

Those interested in glassware may have noticed some wine glasses with huge price tags. There is a reason for these associated prices – the production of the glass was quite different.

Glass has been made by hand for thousands of years. The craft was originally developed in Egypt, with artisans developing glass blowing into an art synonymous with luxury. Glass objects were both ornamental and functional – decorative drinking vessels have been recovered from the Roman Empire almost two thousand years ago, and the trend of artisan glassware continues to this day.

Machine made glassware developed significantly because of the industrial age, wherein glass could be manufactured in significant quantities. The addition of lead oxide to glass by George Ravenscroft in 1674 also contributed to the easy manufacture of glassware, making it more malleable and allowing it to have refractive properties. Modern crystal glassware is made using barium oxide, zinc oxide, or potassium oxide instead of lead.

Modern Hand-made Glassware

Modern hand-blown glassware is typically made with crystal. As crystal is a stronger material than glass (due to the added materials) handmade glassware results in a thinner and more elegant appearance than glass produced by a machine. The thin nature of hand-made glass also makes these handblown glasses lighter than their machine-made counterparts.

Each glass that is handblown is a one of a kind piece due to the human process involved in creating it. It can be incredibly difficult for even the most proficient glassblowers to produce a perfect glass, so each piece is different in very subtle ways. Handmade glassware can be the product of up to four glass craftsmen, and this is reflected in the price.

Since the initial advancements of machine-made glassware during the industrial age, modern machines have improved the production quality of glassware significantly. Modern machines can produce glass of a very high quality – it is possible for an untrained eye to have difficulty differentiating between high quality machine-made glassware and handmade glassware. It must also be considered that this high quality machine-made glassware can be produced in significant quantities, resulting in excellent glassware that is less expensive.

Considering the best option for you

It is possible to have the best of both worlds – modern wine glasses can have hand-blown bowls and machine-made stems, providing the uniqueness of handblown glass at a smaller cost.

With the various ins and outs of handblown and machine-made glassware, particularly aspects like price and artistry, deciding which glassware to choose is very much up to the individual.

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