Friday, October 31, 2008

Lamps of Tiffany by Dr. Neustadt

The Lamps of Tiffany by Dr. Egon Neustadt was the first major book published about Tiffany lamps and is still one of the most extensive, showing several color variations on many lamp designs. It is an important book for any Arts & Crafts library, and a "must have" volume for serious Tiffany collectors/enthusiasts.

Published in 1970 by Dr. Nuestadt through the Fairfield Press, New York, this book was originally published in two editions. The first was a standard hard cover book with an illustrated dust jacket, and the second has a deluxe binding of purple cloth stamped in gold and pink gilt on the cover and spine, rather than the standard yellow cloth stamped in purple and gold. The deluxe edition is very hard to find and was signed and numbered by Dr. Neustadt. There is a second printing of this book which has a black cloth binding.

The Lamps of Tiffany chronicles Dr. Neustadt's extensive private collection of Tiffany Studios lamps and glass. Included are photos of many of the most important Tiffany lamp designs which are accompanied by lengthy descriptions by Dr. Neustadt. Starting his collection in the 1930's, Neustadt was an early Tiffany collector and most of his collection is now divided between the New York Historical Society and the Queens Museum of Art (Neustadt died in 1980) .

The pictures show a copy of the deluxe edition, copy #473 (of an unspecified number), hand-signed and numbered by Dr Neustadt. The book itself is in fine condition showing only the slightest of wear to the head and tail of the spine. The dust jacket is price clipped (because it is a deluxe copy) and has an 8” vertical tear along the edge of the spine, with some wear around the edges.

Included with this book is the Portfolio of Tiffany Lamps, a folder containing 16 prints of various lamps from the collection, published at the same time as the book. This copy is available for purchase from our showroom. We only have one deluxe copy of this rare book available.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mosaic Wall Pieces

Over the years, Bill has made quite a few glass mosaic panels with a variety of sources for inspiration. These pieces are created by cutting art glass to make a picture using the reflective quality of the glass (as opposed to our stained glass windows and lamps where the glass is selected with light coming through it). Once cut, the pieces of glass are permanently affixed to a backing, then the space between the pieces is filled with grout. This gives the final piece a softer overall look than a stained glass window panel because the lines between the glass are not dark metal outlines.

Usually, only one person can work on a glass mosaic project because the picture will evolve over the course of its creation, so it is difficult to work on two different sections of a piece at one time. Bill seems to have more patience for this kind of work, so Irwin usually works on a lamp or window project while a mosaic is being created.

The Cockatoo mosaic was made for a St. Paul, MN couple and was inspired on a Tiffany Studios mosaic wall hanging. The Angel Playing Music panel was made as a studio piece over 10 years ago and was sold at that time.

One of our most recent mosaic panels is inspired by a Pre- Raphaelite painting of Sidonia Van Beck by Edward Burne Jones. One of the wonderful features of glass mosaic is the ability to use iridescent and lustre glasses. Lustre glass has a soft, reflective surface that catches the light as you walk past it. Sidonia has a velvety blue lustre glass background that compliments the glasses chosen for the figure which are not iridized. Our Sidonia portrait mosaic is finished in an elaborate gold frame and is currently available in our showroom.

Lustre glass was used extensively by Tiffany Studios in their mosaics. One of the largest Tiffany glass mosaics is the Dream Garden in Philadelphia, PA. Located in the lobby of the Curtis Publishing Building just behind Independence Hall, the Dream Garden is a masterpiece of mosaic art which was created by Tiffany Studios from a painting by Maxfield Parrish.

Friday, October 24, 2008

26 Turtleback Chandelier

Designed to be used as a chandelier fixture, the 26" Turtleback shade is a unique Tiffany Studios design. "Turtleback" is the name given by Tiffany Studios for the large pressed glass jewels that resemble the shell of a turtle. These are some of the largest jewels that Tiffany created and they were used in a variety of shade, mosaic and window applications. The turtleback tiles are pressed in two sided bronze molds created from an original Tiffany tile. The thickness varies from over 1/2" to less than 1/8" within each tile.

This 26" Turtleback has a different look from most of the other turtleback lamps we create. Usually turtleback shades have flat glass tiles and a decorative band of turtlebacks, while this lamp is created completely from the pressed jewels. Starting with large 4" x 6" pressed turtleback tiles, the shade is characterized by its heavy lead lines and chunky, three dimensional glass.

Using turtleback tiles which were pressed especially for our studio, we begin the shade by creating a network of large oval jewels with massive leading between them. Once the large turtlebacks are tack-soldered in place, Irwin cuts, facets and fits the pieces that will fill in the gaps between the large jewels. This process is done completely by hand using the carbide tipped hammer shown in the photo to the left.

Because of the extra weight of the glass in this shade, special reinforcement is needed so that the piece will not sag or pull itself apart over time. With a single chain, six light chandelier fixture, the total weight of this unusual shade is approximately 48lbs - more than double the weight of other large stained glass chandeliers.

This shade design is one of the only lamps that Louis Comfort Tiffany had in his own home. He used three 18" versions of this shade hanging in a line over a long table. The shade we are showing is currently in our showroom and available for purchase.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

18" Poinsettia Trellis

The most recent addition to our line of Tiffany reproduction shade patterns is the 18" Poinsettia Trellis design. This floral design features an unusual trellised background, which gives the design an "in the garden" feel. The profusion of lush foliage and rich coloration make this design a welcome addition to our expanding line of shade patterns.

The shade is shown on the Mockturtle base. This base has a great three dimensional look and works well with any 16" to 20" shade.

In the small photo to the right, the same shade is shown on the Osage Pottery base. The roundness of the base gives the lamp a very different profile from the tall, narrow Mockturtle.

Irwin is shown soldering the outside of this shade. The 18" Poinsettia shade was created for an Illinois couple and is now in their private collection.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lamp Bases

At Century Studios we are pleased to offer over 65 reproduction lamp bases and chandelier fixtures to compliment our stained glass shades. We offer two lines of bases, those created by Odyssey and bases made in our Minneapolis studio.

Odyssey bases are cast overseas using molds taken from original Tiffany Studios lamp bases. They are solidly made, accurate to the Tiffany originals, and finely detailed. We offer the full line of Odyssey metalwork.

Reproduction Tiffany bases made at Century Studios are created one at a time in our studio. In February 2000, we acquired the holdings of Studio Disselhoff from Los Angeles, CA. Willy Disselhoff began creating Tiffany reproduction bases in the 1960's and had a wealth of molds and parts used for making lamp bases. After bringing the contents of his studio back to Minnesota, we began the ongoing the task of sorting through the materials and figuring out which lamp each individual piece went to - often a lamp part will be used on several different bases. Over the past eight years, we have been slowly working to expand our line of reproduction bases. To date, Century Studios offers over 20 exclusive reproduction bronze lamp bases and chandelier fixtures.

In addition to our bronze bases, we make reproduction metalwork for a large variety of pottery bases made in conjunction with Ephraim Faience Pottery and Jemerick Art Pottery. The pottery portions of these bases are hand made to our specifications and we fit them with our lighting components. Tiffany Studios offered a selection of pottery lamp bases using pots made by the Grueby Pottery. Our line of pottery bases have been especially popular with arts and crafts collectors.

Century Studios is proud to produce a full line of Tiffany reproduction Lily Lamps, Lily Chandeliers and Lily Wall Sconces. We will post a blog entry for these pieces at a later date.

Monday, October 13, 2008

28" Dragonfly Shades

Dragonfly shades are made in more sizes than almost any other Tiffany Studios design motif. Even well into the 1920's when Tiffany Studios had all but disbanded the lamp department, they were still filling orders for dragonfly shades. The largest of the dragonfly designs we recreate are the 28" cones.

We offer two different 28" Dragonfly shade designs, one where the insects are flying downward and the other with them swirling upwards in a whirlwind pattern. Both of these shades were originally designed to be used as chandelier fixtures, and can be created with a number of different hanging fixture variations. The simplest fixture has a single chain that attaches the shade to a ceiling canopy. There are more elaborate fixtures that have the shade hanging from 3 chains.

On both of these designs, the backgrounds are studded with a number of pressed glass "jewels". Tiffany Studios made their own glass jewels in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. At Century Studios, we also have pressed our own dragonfly jewels. Using bronze molds made off original Tiffany jewels, glass is heated in a furnace and is shaped in the molds using a hand press. This gives our dragonfly shades an authentic look.

The picture on the right shows Irwin removing a palette of just pressed, red-hot jewels from a mold.

The 28" cone shades occasionally will be used as floor lamps or very large table lamps instead of chandelier fixtures. On the left is a photo of the "flying down" dragonfly on a large turtleback base.

The "flying down" dragonfly shade was completed in June 2008 and the "flying around" dragonfly was made in 1996. Both are in private collections.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Recent Projects

Over the past two weeks we worked on and completed a number of projects that were waiting to get finished up once we got past our September show.

The first project was a large skylight that was made in a Persian floor tile pattern. The larger squares were transparent to let in a lot of light, while the blue and gold tiles were rendered in lustre glass. Because this piece is being installed horizontally in a skylight, it needed lots of extra reinforcement. In the photo showing a segment of the completed window you can see the reinforcing bars through the semi-transparent glass.

While Irwin was working on the large skylight, Bill was making up a suncatcher whose design was based on a wedding invitation. We have made several pieces of this sort over the years, and the completed pieces make great keepsakes for the wedding couples.

It was a week of multi-tasking , having three projects running concurrently. The third piece was a rendition of the famous "Peek - A - Boo" window from the Purcell Cutts House in South Minneapolis. Owned and operated as a period house by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, this famous arts and crafts style home is open for tours and features amazing leaded windows. We created this version of the signature design at the request of a local client.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Visitors to our Minneapolis showroom/studio have found more than just lamps and large window projects available for purchase. In our showroom's front window we always have smaller items that will range in size and price. These smaller "suncatchers" are affordable as gift items and add a splash of color to any window.

Many of our suncatchers are based on children's book illustrations or floral designs. These small window hangings can be created in any size or image. We are happy to make up almost any image desired. Below are photographs of several suncatchers currently in our window.

Friday, October 3, 2008

14" Geometric with Favrile Balls

Completed days before our show in St. Paul, MN (see the posting from Sept 12, 2008), this shade was two years in the making! Why so long? It was because all the specialty reproduction parts needed to be created for the band of favrile balls. Making this band of lustred glass balls took the combined efforts of our studio, a glassblower and a metal stamping shop.

Once we had obtained an original Tiffany lustred ball and backing plate to use as an example, we began the process by having the balls reproduced. Each lustred ball was expertly made by a glass blower with a small bubble of air on the inside. Each ball is held in place to a band of loops with a backing plate and a screw. Bill drilled the balls by hand to reveal the open space so we could complete our preparations to screw the balls onto the shade.

The backing plate for each ball was created by a local metal stamping shop using the original Tiffany part as a pattern. These tiny cup-shaped pieces have holes in them to allow the light to pass through and give light to the row of balls. So far so good!

The final step to making the completed shade was creating the band of metal loops needed to hold the balls in place on the shade. Once positioned on the shade, this band supports the balls and lets light through the spaces creating an open, airy feel.

Once all the various parts were created to exacting sizes and were all assembled in one place, we were finally able to begin construction on the shade. Bill spent a lot of time preparing the balls so they could be screwed onto the shade, and sorted them so they would look good in the band since no two are the same. We are excited to now be able to create other reproduction shades using these wonderful balls. Tiffany Studios made this shade in several different sizes.

This deceptively simple piece made its debut at the 9th Annual Arts and Crafts Show and received a lot of attention for its three dimensional look. The shade is currently available for purchase in our showroom.