Monday, September 29, 2008

Love's Messenger Window

Completed in June 2008, Love's Messenger was inspired by Maria Spartali Stillman's painting of the same name. We have altered the countenance of the figure to make this window a portrait. This window has all the bells and whistles - Painted features, multiple plated layers, three dimensional glass and lots of piecework.

One of the image's main challenges was to give each of the many different kinds of fabrics different textures and looks. The blue dress had to feel rich and velvety, while the scarf the figure is wearing had to look light and transparent. In the lower left corner is a piece of embroidery which we wanted to have a knobbly texture.

The window panes in this piece also presented an exciting challenge because in the original painting, the panels are constructed from "rondels" (thick pieces of glass that resemble the bottom of bottles). To recreate this look in our window, we used actual rondels and tinted them with a plated layer of glass from behind. The curtained window in the upper right quarter of the window has an airy, transparent look created by using plated layers with the rondel pattern on the reverse.

Bill created the cartoon (working drawing) for the window by hand using the painting as a point of reference. Bill also hand painted the face and hands of the figure, kiln-firing the details onto the surface of the glass. This elaborate window is housed in a light box and is in a private collection.

Friday, September 26, 2008

7" Violet Shade

The smallest stained glass shade we create is a 7" Violet design. This is a Century Studios' original shade design that was created by Bill Campbell in 2006. To date, we have made three examples of this petite pattern.

Bill designed this small shade following the "Tiffany rule" that the size of the flowers depicted on a shade should be rendered life size to the original plant. Because everything is done in miniature, the pieces for this shade - especially the flower centers - are often not much larger than chips of glass which must be cut, fit, foiled and soldered into place. This is painstaking and time consuming work!

Finding a lamp base small enough for the shade can be a challenge. We have used our Lily Pad Base (a design which we also make as a candlestick) which makes for an elegant pairing. For our show in September, we used the Wood Violet Vase created by Ephraim Faience Pottery and created metalwork to turn it into the perfect small lamp base. The example pictured on the Lily Pad base is in a private collection. The example shown below on the pottery base is currently in our showroom and available for purchase.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Venus Verticordia Window Part 2

The Venus window is now complete and delivered. The posting showing the beginning of Venus window's construction was posted on August 25, 2008.

Venus is the goddess of love and possesses the "golden apple" which was presented to her by Paris. Scholars believe the apple was really an orange, since they were much scarcer than apples in Ancient Greece and were highly prized. Venus is shown holding her trophy and also an arrow with which she could send love on its swift course to the heart of a mortal.

The first photo to the right shows the window on our light table before the flowers have been laid out. The painting has been completed by Bill and the hair, halo and most of the background has been laid out. The photo to the left shows Irwin laying out the roses in different shades of ruby red. Our clients requested that the roses be lush and red in tone and several different glasses (some with textured surfaces) were used.

The upper background of the window where the roses appear was plated behind a textured glass that added color and shading to the area behind the figure. In the next two photos, the window is shown being soldered and also without the plated background in which the roses were added.

In the completed window, the plating intensified the color of the blue and purple background glass and also gives a sense of three dimensional depth to the finished window. This window was framed in a solid Maple light box and is now in a private collection.

Monday, September 15, 2008

28" Lemon Tree with Birds Chandelier

Inspired by a Tiffany Studios' mosaic wall hanging, the 28" Lemon Tree w/Birds Chandelier is a Century Studios' original lamp design. Currently available for purchase in our showroom, this generously proportioned shade features a wealth of details and a lush color palette.

Using the mosaic as inspiration, Bill began to design the shade by blocking out the position of the branches so they would have a naturalistic flow on the cone shape. Getting the birds to "perch" on the branches and look natural was quite a challenge. Drawing on a three dimensional surface presents challenges that are not present when working on a design for a flat panel. Positioning the birds in a vertical stance looked normal when viewed straight-on, but they appeared to be hanging on for all they were worth when viewed from an angle! Since a lamp will be viewed from many perspectives, finding just the right angle for the birds took much time and repositioning. Once the birds were safely resting amongst the branches and foliage and the design was finalized, the shade was ready to be rendered in glass.

Usually, either Irwin or Bill will be "in charge" of a project and will select the colors and lay out the glass pieces of the lamp. Both of us work on construction, but usually only one does the layout. On this lamp, we worked together as a team and both laid out portions of the lamp concurrently to create the tropical color scheme.

The elaborate three chain chandelier fixture adds visual interest to the profile of the lamp. This fixture design is Moorish in design and the elaborate cast bronze crown gives the shade added detailing and visual interest. We cast the crown and fabricated the fixture in our studio.

Friday, September 12, 2008

9th Annual Arts and Crafts Show

On September 20 & 21, 2008 we will be exhibiting at the 9th Annual Arts and Crafts Show in St. Paul, MN. This two day show is held in two buildings on the Minnesota State Fair Grounds and brings together approximately 60 dealers of antique, reproduction and new decorative arts. Century Studios has done this show since the first year and it is a great two day event. New at this year's show will be a couple dealers in Mid-Century Modern Antiques in addition to the full line-up or Arts and Crafts dealers.

Featured in our booth will be local potter Nick McArdell of Turner & Scratch Pottery.

This St. Paul, MN artist shows exclusively in Century Studios' showroom and creates many wonderful one-of-a-kind pieces of pottery. Nick has been in our booth for the past couple years and will again be sculpting pottery on both days of the show. As always, he will be happy to answer questions and hand sign pots purchased during the show.

For more information on the show, go to

Monday, September 8, 2008

16" Jeweled Apple Blossom

The 16" Apple Blossom was always a popular Tiffany Studios shade pattern.
Like the 15" Spider lamp discussed in an earlier entry, many original examples of this shade come to auction. With its simple flowing tree branch and spare design, this pattern is a good example of Tiffany's love of Oriental art.

The shade is pictured on the Shell Urn Base. This bronze three-footed base is made completely in our Minneapolis studio and works well for both 14" and 16" shades. The Apple Blossom pictured is currently available for purchase in our showroom.

As you can see from the close-up detail photos, we have given this shade "jeweled" flower centers. To create these pointed jewels, Bill hand-chipped and faceted thick chunks of amber glass until they were the size and shape needed for each flower center. This unusual technique, in conjunction with the rippled leaf glass, creates a look of movement and interest in what is normally considered one of Tiffany Studios' "quiet" patterns.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Autumn Folding Screen

When visiting Lillian Nassau Gallery in New York City, we were always impressed by Tiffany Studio's Autumn Folding Screen which they had on display. The gallery has since sold this masterpiece in glass and we decided to create a reproduction of this impressive creation.

Our first challenge was to create the metal framework that would support the glass panels. We were fortunate to find a local metalsmith who was able to work with us to create the hinged frame to our specifications at the exact size of the original screen. The 6' tall welded steel framework is double-hinged and can be set up in a 'C' or 'Z' configuration and sits approximately 7' in length when extended. The metalwork has been colored by hand to resemble a verdigris patina.

The detail photos show the variety of glasses used to re-create this impressive piece. Wispy, ripple, ring mottle and drapery glasses are all employed to show the bounty of Fall. There are some plated areas in the glass panels which add fullness to the background through the use of fracture glass. Taking inspiration from the original screen, the grape clusters are rendered in three dimensional half-round jewels, and each cluster has been plated to give them a depth of color.

Our screen was featured in the Spring 2007 ASID Design Showhouse in an interior designed by David Heide Design Studio. The photo below shows the screen in the sunroom of the showhouse. Our screen is currently available for purchase in our showroom.

Monday, September 1, 2008

20" Waterlily Shade

Completed at the end of August '08 as a new lamp for our showroom, this 20" Waterlily shade was a fun piece to create. Using rippled water glass, the multi-colored waterlilies float on the tranquil surface of the pond in one of Tiffany Studio's most popular lamp designs.

The first two photographs show how we make our color selections on the light table while laying out the glass for the shade. In the first photo, 1/3 of the lamp is pictured with most of the flowers still to be selected. The second photograph shows the other 2/3 of the lamp completely laid out and ready for foiling.

The 20" Waterlily has been one of our most popular reproduction Tiffany shade designs. Over the last 22 years, we have created 18 renditions of this pattern. The shade makes a spectacular chandelier fixture, and an impressive table lamp. The Twisted Vine base (pictured right) has a slender grace that emulates the flower's stems reaching from the bottom of the pond to the floating flowers above. This stunning shade is currently available in our showroom.

The impressive Cattail base completes the pond motif of the lamp with lily pads and cattail foliage rendered in high relief below the shade. The example pictured to the left was created for our showroom in 1991 and sold to a local client.