Glass Production


Of all of the industries depicted in the Encyclopédie, glass manufacturing is one of the most thoroughly documented and highly detailed. According to Charles Coulston Gillispie, a former Princeton history professor who compiled a collection of Encyclopédie plates on trades and industry, “The glass industry, for example, is splendidly illustrated—one could take the text and plates, construct a plant with divisions for plate, smallware, and crown glass, and produce 18th century glass.”1 Illustrations of the glass industry range from general factory overviews to a step-by-step guide for creating a glass bottle. The Encyclopédie covers several practical commercial applications of glass production including: hand-blown mirror glass, cast mirror glass, bottle glass making, English glass making, and wood glass making.

The International Materials Institute for New Functionality in Glass (IMI-NFG) at Lehigh University is an educational repository for the glass community that provides glass education resources. The Institute has been founded and managed by Professor Himanshu Jain, the T.L. Diamond Distinguished Chair in Engineering and Applied Science, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and the Director of NSF's International Materials Institute for New Functionality in Glass. At least one method of glass production described and shown in the Encyclopédie is still in use today and can be experienced locally in the Lehigh Valley. The Banana Factory in Bethlehem, PA, which is the home of ArtsQuest’s visual arts education programs, offers a variety of classes and studio space for glass blowing and kiln glass design.

1 Diderot, Denis, and Charles Coulston Gillispie. A Diderot Pictorial Encyclopedia of Trades and Industry: Manufacturing and the Technical Arts in Plates Selected From "L'Encyclopédie, Ou Dictionnaire Raisonné Des Sciences, Des Arts Et Des Métiers" of Denis Diderot. New York: Dover Publications, 1959.