For centuries, ceramic art has been identified with Boleslawiec, a town located in Silesia in Poland. As one of the historically disputed region of Europe, Silesia was formerly part of Germany and was, in fact, the birthplace of many of the early Barossa settlers.
The ceramics works are referred to as Boleslawiec pottery, or sometimes called by their German name - Bunzlau pottery or Bunzlauer pottery.The town itself is often called Miasto Ceramiki (Town of Ceramics). A matter of great pride to the local community, it is impossible to talk about the town without talking about the ceramics that have been produced there for over a thousand years.
There are records of the existence of potters and ceramic artists from as early as the 14th century, with the first written record of a potter in the municipal books of Świdnica in 1380. However, archaeological digs have shown pottery and ceramics from the early Middle Ages, and trading patterns strongly indicate their presence at such an early time.
The geography lends itself to ceramics as the area is rich in natural clay deposits which continue to be excavated today. The clay is plentiful and of extremely high quality. It has a high feldspar and silicon content and is classified as stoneware after firing at extremely high temperatures, around 1100-1300 degrees Celsius.
The Village of Lauscha in South-East Germany was founded in 1597 when two glassblowers sought permission from the governing Duke to build a village glassworks, a glass “hut." Since then, glass has been the centre for people in and around this little village in the Thuringian Forest. Today, as in the past, life for the whole village exists because of the glassblowers.
The founding Glassblowers, from Swabia and Bohemia, foundconditions ideal for a glass works, with all the necessary raw materials. When the growing village could no longer be supported by the capacity of the hut, a home industry grew up, and production in the hut split into producing objects formed in front of the glass furnaces and producing rods and tubes that the home workers used for their craft.
In the middle of the 18th Century, lamp glass-blowing was introduced. This technology – blowing and forming shapes from heated glass tubes over an oil lamp – enabled the production of glass beads, mirrored with lead inside, and strung together to make magnificent chains. The colored beads were also used for bridal crowns and hat decoration.
It was probably a very poor Lauscha glassblower who could not afford the normal decorations of fruit, nuts and sweets to adorn his Christmas tree that gave birth to the Christment glass ornament. He ingeniously formed simple hollow shapes over his oil lamp, and then later, in 1847, glassblowers in Lauscha began using molds to create more detailed shapes. This was the birth of glass Christmas tree ornaments, spreading from this little village all over the world. Today Lauscha looks back on more than 160 years of tradition and artistry, and is rightly respected as the birthplace of glass Christmas ornaments.
Murano Glass Makers
Located 1.5 kilometres north of Venice, Italy, Murano is a series of islands that has been a commercial port as far back as the 7th century but it is believed that glassmaking began in Murano when the Venetian Republic, fearing fire and destruction of the city’s mostly wooden buildings, ordered glassmakers to move their foundries to Murano in 1291. Murano glass is the largest proportion of Venetian glass. Murano's glasssmakers were soon the island’s most prominent citizens. By the 14th century, glassmakers were allowed to wear swords, enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the Venetian state, and their daughters permitted to marry into Venice’s most affluent families.