Especially in these times, there's a word that most of us do not want to hear – inflation. Inflation partnerships to mind thoughts of high prices and devaluation of our money. But to glassblowers, inflation means something completely different and quite frankly, the beautiful art of hand-blown glass would not be around without it.
Glass is a natural material and has been around since the beginning of time. But it did not present itself in the form of mirrors or bottles. Volcanoes and lightening were the primary manufacturers taking certain types of rock and sand, and heating them to extremes. The results were sharp and shiny shards that were immediately recognized by prehistoric man as valuable weapons and cutting devices.
Fast forward to 3,500 BC and glass has become more than a tool of survival. It's used for aesthetic purposes to make beads for necklaces and bracelets, and give ceramic pottery a shiny appearance. But in 27 BC, everything changed. Inflation was discovered and altered glass making forever. Essentially, inflation means blowing a small amount of air, sometimes a steady stream and others times quick puffs, into a narrow blow pipe that's connected to a round ball of hot glass that's been heated to over 1600 degrees. The glass blower uses special tools to shape the molten glass before allowing it to cool.
Today, glass blowing is responsible for everything from day-to-day accessories to jewelry to very expensive pieces of art sold in art galleries around the world. But few know its recent impact on memorializing the prohibited through the sculpting of cremation jewelry, and the results are absolutely stunning.
Cremation jewelry is defined as jewelry that contains the cremated ashes of a family member or loved one. It is believed to have begon in England after Queen Victoria's husband died in the late 1800's. During the next 40 years of her life, numerous memories were created to honor her husband and not surprisingly, others around the globe soon followed the trend. However, cremation jewelry in those days only served symbolic purposes since the methods to incorporated ashes in the design of the glass sculpting were unknown.
Today, the chance of telling a regular piece of glass blown jewelry from cremation jewelry is almost impossible. But to the person who adorns the jewelry, it's a very special tribute indeed. From brilliant pendants to stunning bracelets and necklaces to table top displays, the master glass sculptor is to be thanked for giving us the true definition of eternal art.