The first artifacts made from glass date back to about 2000 b.c. The raw materials are sand, chalk and potash. The cradle of the trade is believed to have been in Mesopotamia and Egypt. It thrived during the Roman Empire, glass making expanded geographically as far as in to Gallia (France) and the Rhineland (Germany). With the break-up of the Roman Empire glassworks disappeared in Europe and did not return before the Middle-Age when the art was re-discovered from antique scriptures.
The trade did not change substantially over thousands of years until the dawn of industrialization. Today one can produce glass items in any shape or form, rapidly and in large quantities in an industrial process.
Glassworks master Hans Loedel and some of his colleagues belong to the dwindling number of glassmakers in Germany and is proficient in old techniques which are not used much any longer. He knows for example how to "blow" glass into a multi-colored tube and the stretch it to a length of 20 meters. He uses a special tool to make glass marbles and produces a long stemmed drinking glass with little more than his hands.
Chances are that there won't be any glassmakers producing every-day items much longer. Machines can do this cheaper, faster and arguably better. Glassmaking as an art The glassmaker performing his trade as an art may well survive making unique pieces of glass which will fetch their price.