Friday, August 29, 2008

Dragonfly Mosaic Urn Base

Bill has been busy working on the glass mosaic on a Dragonfly Mosaic Urn base. Time consuming and frustrating, the tiny shards of glass must be expertly fit into the cast bronze lamp base that features flying dragonflys and flowering water plants in relief.

Small strips of glass are cut, then segmented into the tiny rectangles that will make up the larger sections of mosaic in the base. These pieces are then individually cemented in place one at a time until the entire surface is covered with glass. Every piece that comes up to the edge of the bronze dragonflys and leaves has to be painstakingly fit to the contours of the metalwork. Often, the pieces are carefully lifted into place with a tweezers, especially difficult since the glass wants to jump from the delicate pincers and fall off the work surface.

Once the surface of the base is covered in glass mosaic, it is grouted by hand, excess grout is cleaned off and the base is completed. The finished lamp (shade and base) are now in the collection of a Chicago area client.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Venus Verticordia Window

The goddess Venus is the subject of our most recent window commission. Based on a painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti from 1864-68, the face and hair of the original oil painting have been altered to create a portrait window. We are in the middle of production on this piece, and thought we would post some of the process photos to show the progress.

The first image is the drawing for the window, which is known as a "cartoon". This hand-drawn, full sized rendering of the image is given a basic coloring and will be referenced throughout the production process. Two more matching cartoons are created from this drawing - one that is numbered and will serve as the template which we use for layout, and a second which is numbered and cut up to be used as a pattern as we cut the glass pieces. At the right, Irwin is cutting out the third cartoon in preparation to lay out the background and flowers.

The painted areas of the window are created by Bill, who also drew the cartoon. He hand paints each piece of glass with powdered mineral-based glass paints then fires the pieces in a kiln to create the flesh tones and figural details. This process of creating images on glass takes time, talent and patience. Each figural piece of glass is usually fired 3 - 5 times to complete the details and flesh tones.

At left, Bill is hand painting the main body piece for the figure. As you can see in the photo, he references a copy of the original oil painting while creating the details.

Bill is seen checking the painted figure on our light table after he has fired the pieces of glass in the kiln.

Once completed, we will post photos showing the second half of the window's construction.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

15" Spider Lamp

The 15" Spider lamp is a Tiffany lamp design that often gets a strong reaction from viewers. The shade, especially when created in deep brooding colors creates an evocative mood with the spider resting atop its web, waiting for the unwary to approach. The example in amber/purple pictured at the right was created in January 2008 for a client in the Chicago area.

Interestingly, this shade was not originally referred to as a spider design in the Tiffany Studios price guide. The official description of the shade was, "geometric plain, heavy ribs for #337 base". The #337 base is the Mushroom base shown in the photos and is a perfect mate for this shade. It is no wonder that original Tiffany examples of the spider are almost always matched with this base since it is called out this way on the price guide. The amber spider pictured on the left was created in June 2006 for a California client.

There is little doubt when viewing this shade that the inspiration for the design is a spider and web pattern, even though the spider only has six bronze legs extending almost the entire depth of the shade. The perforated vent cap provides the body of the spider. As can be seen in the three examples pictured here, the spider shade can be made in many different color combinations.

Our third example of this shade is a wonderful bittersweet color and is currently available for purchase in our showroom.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Rossetti Window

Completed in June 2008 for a New York client, this "Portrait Window" is based on the painting "Veronica Veronese" by Pre- Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. We find that due to the subjects, compositions and details, paintings from this era translate nicely into stained glass windows. At the right, you see the completed window.

This style of window uses a technique called "plating" where more than one layer of glass is plated on the front or back surface of the window to create effects and colors that do not exist in a single layer of glass. On the left you see the window before the second layer of glass has been applied to the back side of the window.

Below are several photos of Bill and Irwin working on the window. Bill is laying out part of the dress, next to the face and hands he painted earlier. For painting of this sort, individual layers of pigment are brushed on the glass and fired in a kiln. Multiple layers of paint are used to build depth and detail. Irwin is soldering a portion of the plated second layer to the back side of the window.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Drapery Glass

Drapery glass was invented by the glassmakers at Tiffany Studios to recreate, in glass, the folds of fabric in garments. It was also used extensively in floral windows when representing saucer magnolia trees. Tiffany's lamp department used this unique glass in the large 28" Magnolia shade.

In the photograph to the right, you will see a full piece of drapery glass in reflected light - the same sheet of glass is on the left in the photo below, shown lit up on our light table. When making flat sheets of art glass, the molten glass (2200 degrees F) is scooped from the furnace with an iron ladle and put onto a steel table . It is then rolled with a steel roller (usually attached to the table) to form the flat piece of glass. To create drapery glass, the molten glass is shaped by taking a hand held roller and using it like a rolling pin to create "speed bumps" on the surface. It can also be tugged and pulled by hand using steel tongs to create the deep fabric-like folds in the surface. It is easy for the glassmakers to get burnt while making this unusual glass and extreme care must be taken while rolling the glass.

Because of the amount of hand work involved, sheets of this glass can only be created at a very small size - often 1/4 to 1/3 the size of a regular sheet of art glass.

Over the years, Century Studios has collected a variety of one-of-a-kind sheets of drapery glass for use in our lamps and windows. Glass manufacturers occasionally create drapery in unusual colors as can be seen in the sheets laid out on our light table. These unusual and intense colors are used for garments in windows such as the Red Angel window shown on our website. The lush green drapery can be used for grape leaves in windows or large lamps.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

28" Magnolia

Lets get things started right away with one of the largest Tiffany patterns we create. The 28" Magnolia shade is one of Tiffany Studio's signature lamp designs and the generous size of this shade works well as a standing floor lamp or as a chandelier fixture. The shade pictured was completed in July 2008 for a local client.

The flowering Saucer Magnolia tree was a favorite motif of Louis Comfort Tiffany, and he had magnolia windows created for his home in Long Island, New York (these windows now can be seen at the Morse Museum in Winter Park, Florida). Because flowers in Tiffany lamps are generally rendered life size to the actual plant, the magnolia blossom was only created as a large shade. When this spectacular shade is used on a Senior Floor base, the lamp gives the impression of a tree in the full bloom of springtime!

In order to give the magnolia shade a realistic, three dimensional look we often use "drapery glass" for the large flower petals. This heavily folded glass is an extreme ripple with an undulating surface. Originally created by Tiffany's glassmakers for use in figural windows to replicate the folds of material on a garment, drapery glass is hand folded while hot to give the sheets of glass their unique look.