Last Updated: Jul 19, 2016     Views: 72

Fred Birkhill’s “A Concise History of Lampworking” states, “One would expect the use of the lamp, as well as other techniques of glassworking to establish itself in the United States. Indeed, many lampworkers did emigrate from Europe to the U.S. during the 19th and 20th centuries. The primary use of flameworking has been for scientific purposes.” 

During the 1850s in Europe and the United States, glass companies had lampworking departments as part of their operations. Southern New Jersey, a hub of the glass industry for the country, had the largest concentration of lampworking businesses. The 1850s were also the time when lampworked flowers and designs were encased into paperweights. Troupes of lampworkers traveled through the world demonstrating this ancient art to entranced crowds at fairs and paid appearances. 

At the beginning of the 20th century, powerful torches with controlled flames were created in response to industrial needs. Because the melting temperature of Pyrex is so high the old forced-air lamps could not melt the glass. Borrowing from the welding trade and combining oxygen and natural gas, new burners were designed that produced a flame of sufficient heat to melt Pyrex. A new method of heating the glass was now needed to work the new material. Traditional oil lamps were replaced by torches that were clamped to the lampworker’s bench top. These too were eventually replaced by the modern surface-mix bench burners in use today. 

If you would like more information check out these resources. 

A Concise History of Lampworking by Frederick Birkhill, Glass Art Society Journal 1984-1985, pp. 146-149 


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