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Glass Discussion & Research. No ID requests here please. => Far East (excluding China) => Topic started by: David E on December 10, 2008, 10:23:16 AM

Title: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: David E on December 10, 2008, 10:23:16 AM
A rather long post, but concerns possible similarities between British and Japanese pressed glass, c.1880-1900.

I was fortunate to meet up recently with a Japanese lady, Akiko Inoue Osumi, a lecturer at Tokai University, who has been researching the British influence on the Japanese sheet glass industry in Shinagawa (c.1870-1880). It is quite possible that Chance or Pilkington got involved, hence my own interest. Although at least five skilled British men went over there, the involvement of either company has still to be proven, but some influence is suspected.
 
Also at this meeting in Cambridge was Sally Haden, whose gt.grandfather (James Speed) was one the five men known to have helped developing the sheet glass works. However, after a few years, the attempt to produce sheet glass was abandoned (c.1880), but the exact reason for this decision has still to be determined. It would appear that production then reverted to art glass: Akiko has some superb photos of blown brush holders with included coloured spirals - a possible Nailsea influence*? - and pressed glass.

*with Akiko's permission I will post these photos - they are very attractive.
 
Akiko was in England for two weeks to research at Jardine Mattheson, in Cambridge, which is a company that was involved in the export of materials to Japan, and provided us with an opportunity to all meet up.
 
It was a very productive meeting - but the reason for this topic concerns a fragment of pressed glass (the photo of a complete plate is attached), which was discovered on the site of the old Shinagawa works. It
is 14.7cm diameter, so virtually 6in.
 
I am curious (and the nub of this post, finally): is it possible that English moulds were made and exported to Japan to create these plates? To my untrained eye, it appears there are certain similarities to Sowerby. And being that making the cast-iron moulds is such a skilled job, this might have been the pertinent action to take, perhaps? I'm also not sure how advanced the cast-iron industry was in Japan at this time.

Following a private mail to Glen, her observations are as follows:

Quote
Steve and I don't have enough information to say yes or no - but I can't see that it would have been ruled out. Do you recall the Davidson look-alike piece with old Chinese writing that my Australian friend discovered?
http://www.geocities.com/carni_glass_uk_2000/MysteryComport.html
 
Could have been a copy, or it could have been a mould made (in England??) for the Chinese market.
 
The open edge pattern on the plate you showed me is similar to Sowerby's Wickerwork. It's also similar to a pattern made by Greener/Jobling and one made by Brockwitz in Germany (possibly other makers too). All were pressed glass and all had an open edge design.
 
We know that Brockwitz had a huge mould shop and sold moulds to other glass makers (Eda Glasbruk in Sweden for example). Talking of Eda, they also made a Wickerwork plate identical to Sowerby's, except theirs has the moulded Eda trademark on the base.
 
In summary, we can't answer your question with certainty; however it seems perfectly possible that moulds could have been made in Europe and exported to Japan.
 
Please do put your question on the GMB. Adam Dodds may be able to help with the Sowerby link.

I have e-mailed Adam to alert him to this post.

Lastly, Akiko showed me some absolutely stunning 'cut-glass' ruby-flashed, intaglio examples of Japanese glass. Despite appearing to have traditional cuts, these were not produced by the traditional method (such as copper wheels, to the Western world), but hand-engraved. I hope Akiko can either join GMB and show us these photos, or allow me to post them — they are truly stunning  8)

All photos are © Akiko Inoue Osumi
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: David E on December 10, 2008, 10:24:09 AM
Last photo. All photos are © Akiko Inoue Osumi
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Cathy B on December 10, 2008, 11:30:32 AM
That piece is extraordinarily beautiful. Thanks very much to Akiko for letting you show it.

I came across the website of the Japanese Uranium Glass Collectors Club recently. They seem a little bit lost in terms of identification (if the website is anything to go by), and seem to collect mainly foreign glass, but you may find someone there willing and able to collaborate?

http://uranglass.gooside.com/english.htm
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: David E on December 10, 2008, 11:35:55 AM
It may be worth encouraging the Japanese uranium glass collectors to join GMB, although this example is very early and may not be within their collecting sphere.

Not sure how GMB copes with Japanese pictograms though! 8)
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: krsilber on December 10, 2008, 06:32:27 PM
That's a great pattern!  So much depth and dimension to it.  What a fascinating research topic!  I would love to see the engraved pieces you mention.  Do you mean they used chisel-like tools?  Sometime tools like that were used in the West as well for fine work that couldn't be done with a wheel.

I can't imagine Japan didn't have the capability to produce their own molds, but that doesn't mean they didn't import them.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Adam on December 10, 2008, 07:22:03 PM
I can't contribute much here - other people know far more than I do about 19th century activities, Sowerby or otherwise.  One point - it wasn't the making of the iron castings which was highly skilled in mould making.  Although foundry work is skilled in its own right such skills were available world wide for years, probably centuries.  An iron casting is simply the starting point for the glass mould maker to apply his highly specialized skill.  I'm afraid I have no idea whether or not moulds might have been exported.

Probably of less interest to the GMB, I am curious to know why attempts at making sheet were abandoned; unfortunately David says no one knows.  In the 1860s sheet would either be made by the ancient spinning method (cf "bullseyes") or, more likely, by blowing cylinders, splitting and flattening them.  Both of these are essentially manual processes, certainly skilled but requiring little capital equipment or engineering apart, of course from the furnaces.  The next stage in evolution, the Lubbers process, which needed major investment might have been beyond the Japanese then but in any case it didn't appear on the scene until early 20th century.

Sorry, that's my lot!

Adam D.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: krsilber on December 10, 2008, 07:39:07 PM
Maybe it just wasn't economical; perhaps importing it was cheaper.  I wonder what kind of sand there is in Japan, it being a volcanic area.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Frank on December 10, 2008, 10:14:59 PM
Minor correction David: British and Scottish men.  ;)

Nothing turning up on the Scottish side of this investigation yet.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Frank on December 10, 2008, 10:21:49 PM
An idle thought, carving was a very high artform in Japan, carving a mould after casting would be no issue. Clues would be in the use of unusual combinations of design elements, as in other fields such as pottery, where items are made for export.

The importation of British (or American which were of good quality in that period) moulds is also highly likely as the imported men would utilise their own contacts. But it might be hard to get hard facts on that.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Anne on December 10, 2008, 11:26:53 PM
Minor correction David: British and Scottish men.  ;)

Nothing turning up on the Scottish side of this investigation yet.

Despite the feelings of some Scots, Frank, Scotland is still part of Britain.  Did you mean English and Scottish?  >:D
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: David E on December 10, 2008, 11:30:33 PM
Adam: Thanks for the input - very interesting as always. When in Cambridge, we did discuss the possible reasons for the failure of the Shinagawa plant to make sheet glass (cylinder method, by the way), but really went round in circles! Perhaps it was simply uneconomical. But after about 1881, it is believed the Shinagawa works turned to art glass. James Speed, held in much regard by the Japanese, was still in attendance and was training the apprentices. There even exists a photo of him at this time.

Frank: At the time of all this happening in Japan, I believe all parts of Great Britain was commonly referred to as 'England'... (thanks Anne for the update) ;)

But the 'carving' of this flashed intaglio dish is truly remarkable - I do hope the photo can be posted here.

Edit: The method of spinning glass (bullseye) is called crown glass, so this was not the method that they could not reproduce. There is a photo on Glass Gallery somewhere that I posted, showing the disc being spun.

Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Lustrousstone on December 11, 2008, 07:27:02 AM
It is possible that there simply might not have been a big enough market for sheet glass - Japanese houses were built of paper, wood and bamboo and the logistics of transporting glass might have been too difficult.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: David E on December 11, 2008, 08:30:41 AM
No, it was a technical reason as there definitely was a market for sheet glass. Akiko informed me that Japan, at this time, was adopting a western-style outlook and traditional Japanese buildings were being cast aside, sadly :( I think it was a government policy to adopt western styles and values.

We have already mused on whether it was the ability to blow the cylinders of glass, the splitting or flattening, the furnaces, annealing, the availibility of minerals, the ability of the technologists, everything.

Edit: Perhaps the question of sheet glass should be treated as a separate topic? Rather diverse to art glass, so might not get the responses.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Frank on December 12, 2008, 01:11:54 AM
It could have been a financial reason too, it was a highly competitive industry and several big players on the world market then. There could well have been attempts to impose levies on imports to try and make the local industry competitive. But if they were importing skills I would have thought technology was less of an issue. It was common everywhere for flat glass works to stop/start production as the market ebbed and flowed.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: krsilber on December 12, 2008, 03:43:53 AM
Maybe it just wasn't economical; perhaps importing it was cheaper.  I wonder what kind of (edit: and how much) sand there is in Japan, it being a volcanic area.

Quote
We have already mused on whether it was ...the availibility of minerals...

So, what was the availability of minerals, particularly silica?  Not an issue?

A split subject might be a good idea.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: David E on December 12, 2008, 11:19:02 AM
Frank: From about 1875 (Akiko will correct me) the Shinagawe plant got nationalised, so the financial side might not have been an imperative. However, perhaps if the plant was non-profitable after several years of trying, did the owners realise that turning their attention to art glass would turn Shinagawa into a more economical venture? Hence the reason for pressed and blown art glass?

Kristi: The availability of minerals was definitely not an issue — as has already been shown, Shinagawa (and other glass-making companies in Japan) were producing items of all types, from well before 1870. The production of sheet glass does not really require any special chemicals, but besides, the company was importing certain equipment and chemicals, as has been proven by Jardine Matheson (correcting earlier spelling) manifests.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: krsilber on December 12, 2008, 08:33:21 PM
I don't want to belabor the issue, and it's a total speculative WAG, but I'll just explain my reasoning.  Japan is a bunch of volcanic islands and would have a geology reflective of that.  From what I gather, they do a lot of offshore mining for sand today, so presumably it's not abundant on land.  I would think that sheet glass would consume more sand relative to the price of the finished product than art glass (e.g. 1 tonne of sand might make $100 worth of sheet glass, but $1000 worth of goblets).  If sand was in short supply and therefore relatively expensive, perhaps it made more economic sense to use it for smaller, more expensive items.  This would be especially true if technological changes in the manufacture of sheet glass brought its price down, so something worth manufacturing in the 1860s may have been cheaper to import later.

Just an idea. ;D  There are so many potential factors involved, it's impossible to assess without knowing a lot more than I do, but I'm always happy to hypothesize! ;)
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Cathy B on December 13, 2008, 02:41:46 AM
There are plenty of sandy beaches in Japan. As to the chemical composition of the sand, this piece suggests that there's quite a bit of silicone dioxide in the form of quartz dust - but perhaps the impurities make it difficult to refine for glassmaking?
http://sciencelinks.jp/j-east/article/200322/000020032203A0746666.php
These authors would know quite a bit about the composition of sand in Japan - maybe you could email them?

Other useful link: History of Glassmaking in Japan:
http://www.engravedglass.cz/lectures/3pred_takeda_en.html

According to this, in the mid-1800s, the Japanese had just started to move into automated glassmaking.

Just thinking, perhaps it has nothing to do with the sand. Maybe the earliest attempts at sheet glass were disasterous, the factories lost huge amounts of money, and so they had to move quickly into something more profitable before they folded.

I only suggest this because when the Australian glass manufacturer AGM moved into window glass in the 1930s, their first attempts were woeful (there are files full of complaints). If they hadn't been able to heavy the government to increase tariffs and rely on profits from their bottlemaking arm, I wonder whether they would have had to give up.

And now an anecdote about Japanese sand! Back in 1988, the Canberra Youth Orchestra Wind Ensemble were invited to a band festival in Shizuoka, Japan. Being organised by the locals, our movements had been planned to the slightest detail. We were told we had to stay in a stuffy, inner room without windows for three hours to 'tune up', with any stray escapee rounded up and shepherded back by our stern Japanese minders. Perhaps this was a comment on our musicianship?

After a week and a half of seeing more of the insides of schools than exploring Japan, we were frustrated, and so we whined and cajouled our minders to take us to a beach. They finally gave in, and we gathered our togs and towels and were driven to a nearby coastal area, Miho no Matsubara. My pictures from the day show a bunch of plump, white, teenagers standing on jet black sand, staring dejectedly out into a completely surfless beach on an overcast day. We'd been warned the water was too dangerous to swim in. That Mount Fuji was allegedly somewhere behind the mist made little difference. We did, however, see a very old tree, braced up with planks, on which "some mermaid had dumped her clothes", to quote a friend. Thinking back now, I'm embarrassed at how insular and self-centred we were. Here was a place of real significance, and yet we were disappointed because it didn't look like a standard Aussie beach. That black sand just seemed to sum up our feelings about the trip.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miho_no_Matsubara

Luckily, we did get to do a little sightseeing after the convention had ended, including a cheery jaunt to the museum at the epicentre of the Hiroshima blast. [No Nukes!]
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: krsilber on December 13, 2008, 03:54:28 AM
Cathy, that's a great link to the history of glassmaking in Japan!  Following up on that, I found an awesome link showing a huge range of Japanese art glass, but will start another thread with it.

FWIW, I found evidence that sand for glassmaking has been imported in Japan from Australia and Indonesia (they used to mine it on the Whitsundays in the 1960s).  Haven't had much luck tracking down direct information about the availability of sand suitable for glassmaking within Japan.  That's an interesting story about the beach at Miho no Matsubara changing from white to black.  Ya spoiled Aussies! ;D  How cool is a black sand beach?!  Did you hear the singing sands while you were there?  I've been to a green sand beach in Hawaii.


Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Glen on December 13, 2008, 09:19:30 AM
My article from 2006 on Japanese Glass.
http://www.geocities.com/carni_glass_uk_2000/Japan.html

gt
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: David E on December 13, 2008, 11:07:45 AM
Cathy: Many thanks. I see the engraver Hauptmann is mentioned in the Atsushi Takeda paper, and is a name that Akiko and Sally had already picked up on. However, impurities in the sand, I believe, would not have been a reason to deter sheet glass manufacture. Adding certain chemicals would eliminate discolourations, such as greenish tinge from iron oxide impurities, but there is less emphasis on high-quality glass for use as windows, of course - I'm currently looking through my own windows, c.1916, which were almost certainly made using the much later Fourcault drawn-glass process - loads of imperfections here! :o

To expand on the early development of the glassworks, and referring to one of Akiko's papers (if I can find it online, I'll provide a link to the entire paper):

Kogyosha works:
1873: Erasmus Gower - the first to be hired and responsible for building the first glasshouse. The pertinant point here is that the works is referred to as "the first Western-style glasshouse".
1874: Thomas Walton - installed the first furnace
1876: Government purchases the "financially troubled" plant after it fails to produce sheet glass the previous year, and this was using "experienced Japanese glassblowers". Plant renamed as Shinagawa after the locality.
1877: Elijah Skidmore arrives as a skilled potmaker (a very under-estimated and higly valued skill, IMHO)
- factory at this time is producing "daily products" and side-lights (navigational lights for ships). Sheet glass production is suspended.

So it can be seen that normal, low-cost glass is being produced.

1878: Walton leaves
1879: James Speed arrives as Chief of Craftsman. Akiko quotes here that, "Clay, various metallic oxides and moulds imported from England." It is also noted elsewhere that Speed was probably the most respected of the engineers.

From this it is possibly pressed glass moulds that it refers to (the navigational lights could have been pressed, of course), but this is not certain.

1881: Sheet glass production resumed, but suspended due to "technical and financial difficulties".

Again, it is still unknown as to what the problems are exactly. 'Technical' is alluded to, but cannot be determined to the exact cause. At this time, "some 268 pieces of table-wares, scientific apparatus, chimneys and bottles are exhibited" at the 2nd inter-Japan Industry Promotion Fair.

1881: Skidmore leaves and takes up post in Osaka glassworks. Hauptmann arrives to take a position as an engraving instructor, but leaves after one year (finances again). Various engraving equipment is imported from England.
1883: Speed is dismissed and moves to Osaka.
1885: Shinagawa sold. It continues operating until 1892 "after adopting German manufacturing technique".

Glen: Thanks for your link! Akiko acknowledges that Japanese glassmaking was "technologically weak" until the arrival of the English workers, but it was still producing many items of glass. I'll contact you about the 'Lefton' label - I can provide a little more information on this.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: David E on December 13, 2008, 12:42:31 PM
Regarding my earlier mention of a photo relating to the making of crown glass, here is the link:
http://glassgallery.yobunny.org.uk/displayimage.php?pos=-2041

Taken from Mirror for Chance, 1951
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: krsilber on December 13, 2008, 06:27:11 PM
That's a great photo of crown glass making!

Quote
However, impurities in the sand, I believe, would not have been a reason to deter sheet glass manufacture. Adding certain chemicals would eliminate discolourations, such as greenish tinge from iron oxide impurities, but there is less emphasis on high-quality glass for use as windows, of course

The effect of iron can be mediated, but you still need sand of a certain composition to make glass.  Sand can come from a variety of parent material, and some sands are much purer sources of silica than others.  For example, the black sand beaches of Japan would have come from basalt, which is relatively silica-poor.  Quartz has very high silica content, but feldspar, the other type of sand mentioned in the abstract, is silica mixed with other minerals, depending on the type.  Another issue is the variation in the sand.  If you go digging up a beach there are going to be layers of different composition, size of grain, etc.  Different sands would need different treatments or batch formulas for use.  Without accounting for such variation (which would be a hassle) you could end up with inconsistent glass quality.

OK, I'll shut up about sand now!  I must have beaches on the brain - a common ailment here in the snow-covered northland.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Frank on December 13, 2008, 10:51:14 PM
Glassmakers invariably will get the best materials that they can, additional processing for impurities would render the cost for window glass uncompetitive, importing would be cheaper. Iron is particularly unhelpful in window glass but useful in bottle glass. Pittsburgh proved the mecca for US window glassmakers because of its sand quality being particularly suitable and costing less than half as much as sand from elsewhere in the US in the period in question - it exported to Japan. In Europe French sand was the best and widely used throughout Europe. Scottish sand was also particularly good. In Bohemia they used quartz instead of sand.

Also in that period, potmaking was a significant factor in window glassmaking, with glassworks failing due to poor pots - despite the technology not being difficult to acquire, mostly it was lack of diligence and quality control. Japan certainly had the technological skills to produce the appropriate clays but it is apparent from other countries that with-out the quality control the mastery of the technology was irrelevant if the batch was lost.

That the Japanese were relying on English technology would also be a negative factor as in this period it was not of good quality, Belgium lead the field followed by France and Germany. That they switched to German technology would imply the use of the Siemens furnace, coming to the fore in this period - but it was expensive, accident prone and gas-fired. Which adds gas production to the technology needed to be mastered by the glassworks. The English glass-makers would almost certainly have installed direct fire furnaces, likely to have been coal fired. The switch of technology again points to issues other than the raw materials.

Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: krsilber on December 14, 2008, 12:13:30 AM
Great post, Frank, very informative.  Yours, too, David.  I hope you find that article online, sounds fascinating.

The US is the biggest producer of sand in the world, a quarter of global production.  (Oops, I said I'd stop it with the s---.)

You'd think the Japanese with their ceramic history would have been able to make good pots! ;D  Maybe they got too cocky. ::)  Or maybe the clay they had wasn't good for it.  Clay is one of the things they imported from England.

Quote
The switch of technology again points to issues other than the raw materials.

Unless gas was cheaper than coal. ;)

I don't understand how the technology of the furnaces and pots could have been the reason sheet glass wasn't being produced if they were still producing other wares.  Is there something particularly technologically difficult about the production of sheet glass?  Special annealing ovens?  A tricky formula? 

What about the skill of the blowers?  Perhaps there weren't enough people who could produce good sheet glass.  It says they were experienced, but maybe not in that area.  Seems like it would be a tough skill to master, and with the industry just getting started there isn't the history in the community and family of glassblowing, where you start your apprenticeship as soon as you can carry a bucket.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: David E on December 14, 2008, 11:38:18 AM
As has already been mentioned, sand was one of the items imported (although whether this was a long-term commitment, I'm unsure), as was clay, presumably for the pots. Both were sourced from the UK, although it is quite possible another glassworks imported sand from the US, or elsewhere. But as a country already producing glass, the technique of pot-making was already available to it.

I agree about the need for an experienced potmaker. Elijah Skidmore was employed, and was probably up to the job as he stayed there for the full term of his four year contract.

I can also confirm that coal was the fuel used. The system employed (Hakurai-buki = imported method) of coal & soda-lime glass, replaced the traditional Japanese methods (Japan-buki) of charcoal & potash-lead glass. BTW, the traditional cutting method was using iron bars and abrasives.

Frank, you seem to suggest that British glass was inferior for making window glass? Chance and Pilkington at around 1870 were probably the one of the worlds leading flat glass producers, and were certainly exporting around the world.

(the trouble with this thread is that there are two disparate interests: window glass and pressed glass)

It is also worth recording that Chance was using the Siemens regenerative furnace from 1861 (Siemens was, incidentally, an adopted Englishman ;) ) so this technology was available in the UK. T C Barker (The Glassmakers) mentions Pilkington as adopting the process around 1863 as well. As a point of interest, I think the gas used to fire these furnaces was derived from... coal! The reason for using gas was due to it providing a more efficient heat source, which also made it cheaper.

Chance originally sourced its sand locally, and went on to purchase entire areas elsewhere in the country for the purpose of mining it (Leighton being one area until c.1890), then switching to Belgium sand. It did eventually use Scottish sand (need to check location) much later - I think 20th century.

Is it reasonable to suggest, therefore, some other reason for why Shinagawa used a coal-fired furnace: perhaps it was too small to support such apparatus? I don't know - it really needs Akiko's expertise in this area.

I also don't believe the skills of Japanese glassblowers was an issue. Glassblowing was already well established and adapting those skills should not have been a problem.

Producing sheet glass by this time was a well-known process and was widely used around Europe to produce window glass. The only problem the company may have found with annealing, was ensuring that it cooled uniformly across the whole surface - this often means artificially cooling it more towards the centre of the sheet. However, I should imagine this pertinant fact was known by any skilled glassmaker and should not have presented an issue.

Finally, on a political note, relationships between the USA and Japan had suffered at around this time, and Britain was already trading into the Far East. Chance had also received visits from representatives of the Japanese government in 1862 and 1872 (Iwakura mission), although whether this was directly related to Shinagawa is unknown at this time. Once I get access to the Chance archives, mid-2009, I will then be able to find out, but there's probably 2-3 years of research material to wade through... :-\
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: krsilber on December 14, 2008, 09:00:55 PM
From  this site (http://www.engravedglass.cz/lectures/3pred_takeda_en.html):

Quote
After 1873, the government invited instructors of glass making several times, and received instruction of the facilities as well as the techniques of various styles of glass making from them. The government also expected them to train Japanese technicians in making glass.


Have you heard of Martha Chaiklin?  She wrote an article, "The Miracle of Industry:  The Struggle to Produce Sheet Glass in Modernizing Japan," in Morris Low, ed., Building Modern Japan:  Science, Technology and Medicine in the Meiji Era and Beyond.

 Here is an abstract of another paper of hers: (http://www.aasianst.org/absts/2003abst/japan/sessions.htm)
Quote
A World without Windows: Glass Production in the Modernization of Meiji Japan

Martha Chaiklin, Milwaukee Public Museum

Glass production functions as an excellent case study with which to chart the conflicting tensions between continuity and disruption from the past that modernization represented for Meiji Japan. When the Meiji Government began the process of institution-alized modernization, glass was one of the industries it chose to support. Why glass? The exorbitant cost of importing glass windows, for all the new Western-style buildings being constructed was bankrupting government construction projects. Sheet glass was one of the most difficult to manufacture, and only panes of minimal size could be produced with the old technology. Glass had been produced in Japan since at least the eighth century, but never in the same quantities as in the West. Yet, the government-funded Shinagawa Glassworks did not rely on ancient expertise, but rather, imported foreign craftsmen to educate their workers. Glass production was therefore a vital part of the new face the Meiji Government wished to present to the world. This paper will discuss glass production in Meiji Japan discussing the social and cultural factors surrounding the transition from craft to industry with special emphasis on sheet glass using government documents and craftsmen’s memoirs.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: David E on December 15, 2008, 07:17:25 AM
Regarding the 1st quote: training the apprentices was one of the jobs that James Speed was bought in for. It would appear that of all the British craftsmen and engineers, Speed was the most highly thought of. A photo of him with a group of trainees in 1883, probably at a farewell ceremony from Shinagawa, is seen in Akiko's paper.

Yes, I was aware of Chaiklin's book and would have bought it, if it were not for the price:

http://www.amazon.com/Building-Modern-Japan-Technology-Medicine/dp/1403968322
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: krsilber on December 15, 2008, 11:48:46 PM
I see what you mean!  It's available here through Interlibrary Loan, maybe I'll get it when I've returned some of the books I have out now.  At any rate, perhaps the skills of the glassblowers were indeed a factor in the problems with making sheet glass?  From what I've read, it seems like until about 1870 most blown articles were small, thin and fragile.

Just so I'm understanding things correctly, was the method of making sheet glass at the time that of blowing huge bubbles, slicing them open and laying them flat?

Quote
BTW, the traditional cutting method was using iron bars and abrasives.
  Can you expand on this?  I'm trying to picture how this worked.  Were the bars and abrasives two separate methods, or used together?  I saw a reference to early diamond point engraving, and wheel cutting was used by the late Edo period.  Maybe bars and abrasives refers to diamond point (or "scratch," since diamonds weren't always used), and the abrasives were embedded in the bars.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Frank on December 16, 2008, 01:26:32 AM
I presume Akiko is aware of

Blair, Dorothy (1973), "History of Glass in Japan": 479 pages 240 b/w 37 colour.

Abstract:
Definitive English reference work on glass in Japan over two thousand years. - ISBN Number: 0870111965. Editions/printings: Mount Holyoko College Japanese only 1998.

Listed in The Glass Bibliography (http://www.glass-study.com/cms/index.php)
I would be happy to add an opinion of the books usefulness.

Mentions a few catalogues too.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: David E on December 16, 2008, 08:32:59 AM
At any rate, perhaps the skills of the glassblowers were indeed a factor in the problems with making sheet glass?  From what I've read, it seems like until about 1870 most blown articles were small, thin and fragile.

Just so I'm understanding things correctly, was the method of making sheet glass at the time that of blowing huge bubbles, slicing them open and laying them flat?
The process of sheet glass manufacture involves blowing a large gob of glass into a sphere, then swinging the ponty rod to expand these into cylinders, cutting the ends off to create a tube, cutting down the inside centre of the tube, reheating the tube to a precise temperature (too much and it sags), opening and flattening the tube onto a table, then annealing. Assuming glass blowing is already a mastered skill, then the only part likely to have caused the men a problem is the swinging, but this is unlikely. Whether there was some other problem with the production process I cannot say.

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BTW, the traditional cutting method was using iron bars and abrasives.
  Can you expand on this?  I'm trying to picture how this worked.  Were the bars and abrasives two separate methods, or used together?  I saw a reference to early diamond point engraving, and wheel cutting was used by the late Edo period.  Maybe bars and abrasives refers to diamond point (or "scratch," since diamonds weren't always used), and the abrasives were embedded in the bars.
I have no idea, and was merely quoting Akiko's article. I imagine the bars were used along the length in a sawing fashion, with abrasives (as a paste?) to aid the cutting. Obviously a far longer and laborious method.

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I presume Akiko is aware of

Blair, Dorothy (1973), "History of Glass in Japan": 479 pages 240 b/w 37 colour.
I would assume so - she is a lecturer at Tokai University so one would expect this to be available to her. But thanks, I will mention it.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: David E on December 19, 2008, 06:43:22 PM
I had an email from Akiko this morning:

Quote from: Akiko
It was surprising for me that many people seems to be rather interested in sheet glass manufacturing in Japan than pressed plate!
 
When I have time I would like to join them, but I am too busy  to answer many questions at the monent. I am sorry about that.

I replied saying this was natural curiosity from researchers who take an interest in all manner of glass production. Hopefully she will have time to respond in the New Year.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: krsilber on December 19, 2008, 11:01:19 PM
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It was surprising for me that many people seems to be rather interested in sheet glass manufacturing in Japan than pressed plate!

Kind of surprises me, too!  A couple weeks ago I wouldn't have dreamed I'd be interested in Japanese sheet glass.

I found a couple videos of cylinder sheet glass construction by Lambert's in Germany.  The blowing part doesn't begin until about minute 7 in the first video, then continues in the second. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsOUyqGa9FM&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4gy7l6vp5I

...In case anyone is interested, I just found a whole chapter on the method. (http://glassian.org/Making/FlatGlass/page31.html)  Oh!  here's another good one (http://glassian.org/Making/Harpers/page245.html)..."conjuring the glaring globe (a gigantic dragon's eye) by artful whispers into a sheet of solid transparency."  The chapter starts with an interesting description of pot making.

I also read somewhere about special annealing ovens (sorry, I don't know anymore which reference this came from; I've read several accounts and didn't keep track, but could find it again if anyone wants it).  I still think making cylinder sheet glass would require a lot of new skill beyond that needed for blowing small glass vessels, but who knows if that was a factor in the struggle of Japanese factories to produce it - not I!


I don't know whether this holds any particular relevance here, but it's a timeline of a Japanese glass furnace maker, starting in 1892. 
http://www.ihara-furnace.co.jp/english/en_corporate/cop_03.html
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Frank on December 21, 2008, 12:52:55 AM
When you study the earlier parts of glass history, you find most of the data is on window or bottle glass, vessels were not as widely used or made. There are distinct technology differences between those two branches and those differences defined how industries developed in any country - although politics also played a major role. Making glass vessels was often a secondary activity until later on and also demanded a different approach to produce a good quality product. The development of the technology for pressed glass was largely derived from the bottle industry but also took a separate path. It is interesting aside, that in glass art that the different threads of the technology have merged again.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: krsilber on December 21, 2008, 01:27:54 AM
I was using "vessel" in a generic sense, meaning something that holds something, and only for the purposes of comparing the difficulty of blowing table or decorative items vs. 4-7 ft (rough guess 1.15 -2 m) cylinders.  As I understand it, the Japanese blown glass tradition had been small, thin wares.

What earlier parts of glass history are you talking about, and what do you mean by vessel?  I would have thought there were always vessels made where glass was blown - that's not true?  I don't understand.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Frank on December 21, 2008, 02:24:48 AM
A discussion too far off topic really. But basically different types of furnaces were used for window and vessel glass, and that different skilled workers were needed for each type. Bottles do come under the heading of vessels but I was meaning more decorative and pre 1700 - also my main detailed knowledge relates to Scotland. In general the quality of glass was the main issue and those failing to produce window glass either went bust or switched to bottles and/or drinking glasses. But other types of glass were being made in one or two places but not a single proven example exists in Scotland from that period. But while substantially earlier than this topic, there are clear parallels to the start up of the industry in Japan except that in Scotland the skills were imported from Venice.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: krsilber on December 21, 2008, 03:51:07 AM
Ahh, so (ah so!) quite a bit earlier than I was thinking, or know anything about!  Sounds like the topic of another discussion one day.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: David E on December 29, 2008, 11:17:28 PM
A message to all on this thread:

幸せな新しい年を

Hope that makes everything clear  ;)
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Anne on December 30, 2008, 12:05:48 AM
... as mud, David!  :P
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: antiquerose123 on December 30, 2008, 12:06:42 AM
A message to all on this thread:  幸せな新しい年を  Hope that makes everything clear  ;)


And for your all:  幸せな新しい年を      (Translation:)  And a very HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all !!
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: David E on January 11, 2009, 03:46:30 PM
I have proposed to Akiko and Sally that a new web site could be started, which would offer a far greater insight into the heritage of Japanese glass. This has been agreed upon in principle, but there are a few issues to be considered – not least the time to develop it!

Having seen some of Akiko's work, it should be fascinating to see this develop.
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: Frank on December 10, 2012, 05:08:36 PM
Long silence....
Title: Re: Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900
Post by: krsilber on December 10, 2012, 10:04:55 PM
Awww, I was just rereading this fascinating thread while looking forward to the new post, and that's it?  I guess I've done no better!  And it's been fun to peruse after all this time, so thank you, Frank.  I still wonder about the wheel-less engraving method.  Maybe there's a museum specimen online somewhere...