Monday, June 28, 2010


Commission work at Century Studios ebbs and flows between window and lamp orders. We seem to hit stretches where clients are ordering more windows, and we are at the tail end of one of these time periods.

A local client commissioned us to make a pair of grape windows which are to be installed on either side of a fireplace in their home. The warm colors in the windows reflect the other art in the room. Butterflies and a dragonfly can be seen flitting amongst the ripening grapes.

We are currently creating a large, multi-layered window for a New York client based on the Impressionist painting, By the Seaside by Renoir.

This elaborate window depicts a woman sitting in a rattan chair by the sea and has all the beautiful coloration that one expects from Renior. To intensify the colors, multiple plated layers of glass are being used throughout the window. Bill can be seen putting some pieces in place on our light table in the photo to the left.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

18" Peony

We recently completed an 18" Peony for a client in Cape Cod, MA. His request was for us to create a peony shade with lush red flowers. The completed shade is shown on the Turtleback Band base.

It can be tricky to find red art glass that is not one-dimensional. Fortunately, we work with several talented glass makers who can coax fine variations in the most stringent reds. To get red glass, the molten batch must be infused with either copper, selenium or gold. Copper produces intense ruby red tones, selenium provides an orange/yellow tint to the glass, while gold will produce a deep fuchsia color which lightens to pink when diluted. Gold is also used to create beautiful purple tones in glass.

For this shade, the background glass is an amber/green mix with a hint of fuchsia pink in it. The intense gold pink blended with the amber tone providing a backdrop upon which the red flowers came to life.

Upon receiving the lamp, our client wrote (in part), "The lamp shipment arrived Monday and I unpacked it yesterday. Little wonder that you send successfully items here and abroad, as your packing style is in a class of its own. The lamp is in perfect condition. I used three 40-watt bulbs and it glows with stunning, glorious colors. If Louis Tiffany Studios were still in production, they would be hard-pressed to match your technique. We are thrilled with the end result of your work."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wally Birds

This past week, a new flock of Wally Birds flew in from Bur Oak Pottery. Each hand crafted bird is a one of a kind creation, and each has a distinct personality.

Wally Birds were first created by The Martin Brothers Pottery in England in the late 1800's/early 1900's. Each bird had a removable head and the body that could be used as a small storage container. Originally said to be tobacco jars, Wally Birds were named after their creator, Wallace Martin. Today, original Wally Birds command a premium on the auction market.

Our Wally Birds are inspired by the originals and are created by husband and wife potters, Ed and Laura Klein of Bur Oak Pottery. To begin a bird, Laura throws two small pots (one for the head and a second for the body) and also a base in on a potter's wheel. Ed Klein then takes these pots and transforms them into fantastic birds by hand, adding legs, beaks, wings and unique personalities to each creation. After drying and undergoing a bisque firing, the birds are glazed with touches of color and put into a wood fired kiln.

The final firing of the stoneware takes a complete day of constant supervision. Because the kiln is heated by a wood burning fire, careful attention must be paid to the amount of flame and heat that is produced. Salt is thrown into the kiln at the end of the firing which vaporizes in the heat and reacts to the clay, producing the unique "salt glaze" surface over the pieces. Placement inside the kiln is critical because there are areas which are hotter than others, and ash from the wood fire goes up into the kiln, landing on the pieces as the firing progresses. At the end of the firing cycle, the fire is extinguished, the kiln is wrapped in fire proof blankets, and is allowed to cool over several days. Each bird jar is finished with a hand lathed painted wooden base, just like the originals.

Because they take so much time and imagination to create, we rarely have more than a couple birds in our showroom at any one time. Each of these pieces is a one-of-a-kind creation. Our recent flock includes:

Boris (picture top, right)- This bird bears a distinct resemblance to Boris Karloff.
Evil Grin Bird (pictured above, left) - We know what a cat looks like when it eats a canary, but this bird has definitely been getting the better of the cat!
Frowning Bird (pictured above, right) - Our little friend got up on the wrong side of the nest and doesn't care who knows it.
Opera Bird (pictured to the left) - A happy, singing bird who is trying to cheer up his companions.

We also received two unusual jars with the birds, a Frog Jar and a Toad Jar. Like the birds, their heads remove for secret storage of treasured objects. The Frog (pictured left) has a shiny overall glaze and looks like he has been happily spending time in a nearby pond. The Toad (pictured right) has a wonderfully bumpy body.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Another Busy Week

Last week was another busy week at Century Studios. We have been working on no less than FIVE projects at the same time! This week we hope to complete several of these projects so we can complete all of our orders. We will show photos of the completed pieces in future postings. Here are two of the projects we have going:

Bill has been laying out a large wisteria window for a local client. This piece will be installed in a transom window over the front door when it is completed. The window has a light, airy feel towards the bottom, then fills in with clumps of wisteria towards the top.

Irwin is shown attaching the bottom rim of an 18" Peony shade for an East Coast client. This lamp is covered with deep red peony blossoms in full bloom. We have had lots of inspiration in the local gardens where the peony bushes are at the end of their early summer bloom.