The Skills and Secrets of Ancient Glass-making
Glass is a mysterious, beautiful and versatile material, not a true solid but a ‘super-cooled liquid’, and scientists still don’t completely understand its exact nature. It comes from cheap and plentiful ingredients – sand, natron and plant ash – which are transformed into exquisite transparency and an infinite variety of forms. The Romans in particular became masters of mass-produced glass, cracking the secret that allowed them to produce blown glass vessels for all.
Dr Denise Allen has studied Roman glass for many years, and she will explain the extraordinarily long history of glass from earliest times. She will also introduce you to the work of the expert glassmakers who have learnt how to reproduce the glass made not only in the Roman period but over more than 4000 years, from ancient Egypt to the 18th century. There will be glass-making demonstrations, and the chance to examine all aspects of the ancient craft at close hand. They have done a number of experiments with wood-fired Roman-style furnaces, replicating ancient techniques, and these will be explained and discussed too, so that you can hear how the results of these experiments have informed us about how the industry might have worked.
Mark and David have a website displaying their work: www.theglassmakers.co.uk, with a page devoted to their replica Roman glass.