Glass is a delicate, yet sturdy, material that we often take for granted. From the vase on our mantelpiece to the champagne flute at a wedding, glassware can be found everywhere, and no doubt we’ve all broken a few pieces in our time. Over the years, glass has been moulded into many weird and wonderful shapes and designs that have established it as a permanent part of our homes. But it has also become widely used in other sectors such as art, science and catering. In this ultimate guide to types of glassware, we’ll be exploring the uses, history and stories surrounding both common and unique glassware pieces.
Beer is a truly global drink, with many countries manufacturing their own traditional beer glasses. The huge range of styles have evolved to improve taste, improve appearance, and to adjust the volume they can hold. Common pieces include beer steins, pony glasses, yard glasses, tankards and schooners.
Used as an easy measurement of a pint, these glasses are a feature of many British pubs. Stem-less and handle-less, they are simple glasses that are held around the body.
Belgian and Dutch styles of beer glass tend to be short and stemmed, with a wide bowl. Whilst goblets and chalices are wide at the mouth, tulip glasses are wide at the bottom but tapered towards the top to trap and amplify the aroma.
Shaped like a boot, this glassware certainly has novelty value. The first examples of beer boots were found in England in the 1800s, and used by members of riding and hunting clubs. Whilst their popularity in England declined, their use sprang up among members of the German military in WWI. Accounts differ, but it is said that troops were encouraged to drink beer from a boot as an initiation test, or if they were successful in battle.
Flat-bottomed drinking glasses, tumblers are often used for the containment of a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and include Collins glasses, shot glasses and highball glasses.
Most common in Russia and former Soviet countries, a table-glass is recognised by its thickness and its faceted texture. Legend has it that the first table-glass was given as a gift to Tsar Peter the Great, with the glassmaker boasting it was unbreakable (after which, the Tsar broke it).
Stemware pieces consist of a bowl, stem and base, and possess different sized mouths depending on the type of drink; this influenced the oxidation, and therefore the flavour and quality, of the drink. Stemware often holds alcoholic beverages, and the stem is used to prevent body heat from affecting the temperature of the drink. Along with standard pieces, such as wine glasses, sherry glasses and cocktail glasses, pieces of note include:
Perhaps the most easily recognisable form of stemware, champagne flutes boast a touch of class that makes them a staple of weddings and other formal events.
These are also known as a brandy or cognac glass. A snifter is a short item of stemware, identified by its large, wide base and a narrower top; this is for the dual purpose of holding the scent within the glass, whilst allowing the liquid to evaporate due to the large surface area.
Sometimes designers like to have some fun with their glassware, creating memorable pieces that are more whimsical than practical.
Possibly one of the the earliest practical joke items, the Pythagorean cup was supposedly invented by Pythagoras of Samos. If filled past a certain point, the victim would soon be covered in their own beverage, which drained through a hole in the base. Glass versions are available today.
Forget the jam; these days, jars have found their way into bars and restaurants as a unique drinking vessel. They are also sold in shops and arrive with lids and a straw hole.
Glassware in the working world
Several jobs involve the use of glassware; most obvious is barwork or catering.
Scientists rely on high-precision, and often delicate, glass instruments to conduct their experiments with accuracy, including pipettes, titration burettes and conical flasks.
Art and decorative
Glass isn’t just good for wining and dining; it’s also used by artists to create modern art for the home. Glass is moulded into unique shapes, coloured, or cut to make intricate designs, and are sold as decorative pieces for homes.
The technique of glassblowing allows artists plenty of flexibility to create one-of-a-kind pieces to serve as a talking point for your guests.
Flowers are found adorning many homes, and vases are often colourful and creatively designed in order to amplify the beauty of the flowers.
The islands of Murano in the Venetian lagoon are famed for their highly skilled, detailed, innovative and colourful glassware. This style has since spread to other Italian cities, many of which have begun making glass in the Venetian style.
We hope you enjoyed our list of glassware pieces from around the world - we’re sure you’ll never look at glass in the same way again!
Here at Abbey Glass, our experienced glaziers can craft a huge range of glass products, including: patterned glass, splashbacks, windows, tinted glass, and leaded decorative glass. Our skilled and detailed approach to our work has earned us a fantastic reputation in Sheffield as leading glass cutters and suppliers in the region. For more information about our products or service, contact us today.