Costly Glass Techniques Date to Ancient Times | Country-life |

2022-07-23 02:40:03 By : Mr. Frank Zhang

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “everything old is new again?” This is especially true when it comes to what is considered “art glass.” In its many forms and adaptations, art glass examples can cost thousands of dollars. If it is a currently made reproduction, prices can be under $100.

Three of the most important types of art glass are cameo glass, cire perdue (the lost wax) process and pate de verre.

Historically, pate de verre dates to ancient Egypt. Cire perdue and cameo glass examples have been traced to ancient Rome and Egypt.

Painted glass involves an additional technique that is divided yet again into subcategories.

Lustre painting, first used in Egypt, consisted of films of color painted onto the body of the piece, which turned lustrous when fired.

Another technique, cold-painting, is done on glass with lacquer or oil-based pigments and not fired.

Decorating by cutting into the glass with different tools can be traced to first century B.C. Roman glass decorators. A rotating wheel or lathe first cut into the glass surface. This created shallow depressions, facets and grooves. Another method called for the wheel and hand tools to cut into the outermost layer, showing the decoration in relief. A different effect was achieved by grinding away a solid block of glass to create a high relief design. Intaglio cutting created an incised, reversed relief effect.

If you think that the term “cameo glass” describes glass with a cameo profile of a person, you are both right and wrong. It is just one of the many words used to describe a glass-making technique. When used to describe this form of art glass, the glass is layered or cased. The outer layers are then partially removed to create images in relief, against color backgrounds. Using this same technique, a “cameo” profile can also be made.

In the late-19th to early 20th century, French glassmakers Galle and Daum excelled in this technique. It was re-introduced in new forms in 1968.

In England, Thomas Webb, part of a distinguished family of glass makers, created what was named “Burmese glass.” He exhibited it for the first time at the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition. It depicted beautiful scenes done with acid etching and wheel engraving.

The ancient technique of pate de verre (powdered glass) was rediscovered and used in new ways during the art nouveau period by French art glass makers. Among them were Daum, in Nancy, France.

Louis Comfort Tiffany created his version of art glass in 1900, naming it Favrile glass. An authentic period example can be priced at over $60,000 in a retail setting. It was a trip to London in the 1860s that led to Tiffany’s experimenting with glass science. His discovery of treating molten glass with metallic oxides led to his creation of glass with an iridescent effect. He changed the science of glass making to an art form.

CLUES: It may seem like a lot of work to do all this research. However, whether you are able to spend a lot of money on an important item or a small amount for a beginning collection, research is important. Fakes and reproductions are everywhere and have been for decades. Check out the many books on the subject with examples.

Demand is growing for carnival glass, which has become a popular collectors item for millennials. 

Whether they're going by memory ware or the French term "pique assiette," these folk art creations can be surprisingly valuable.

Anne Gilbert is a private consultant doing antiques appraisals for a fee. She can be reached at 1811 Renaissance Commons Blvd., Unit 2310, Boynton Beach, FL 33426.

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