Ancient cultures had utilitarian uses for ceramics. This does not mean decorating was not a factor in the process of producing these items. Over the years, archeological digs have found many examples of primitive people who decorated storage jars for more than just identification purposes. Different colors of clay and plant pigments were part of the decorating schemes. Natural substances, obtained locally, were mixed and used to form the styles associated with these cultures. Over time, each culture developed a distinctive style that helped tell the story of who the people were and how they lived. Style changes over time documented developing abilities within these cultures.
One of the advances in ceramics that made great changes in their use was the development of glass. While glass had been an early discovery of man, it was not widely used until it could be produced as a clear product. Once that event occurred, glass became a staple in many cultures, especially in Europe. Widespread use for food storage was one innovative way glass was used.
Once the ability to color clear glass was discovered, artisans of the day created new art forms. Stained glass windows are the perfect example of the use of this ceramic material. Each piece had to be separately crafted with its own color and shape by the artist. Once the individual pieces were made, the artisans then formed them into a whole window. These displays of art can be seen throughout the Western world, mainly in cathedrals and chapels.
Modern glass makers and artisans have further developed their craft. While many of the basic ingredients and processes are still used, applications and finishes have changed greatly. As a form of art, glass has made its mark upon the modern world in the forms of crystal and art pieces. For those who desire the chance to be creative without studying glass making, modern science has the answer. Plain pieces of glass can be covered with glass transfers or glass decals. This allows the hobbyist, with little time or effort, to create their own piece of modern art.