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Fratelli Toso Paperweight with Rare Horse Murrines
July 29, 2015 - 3:11 pm
Vintage Arts : Decorative Art : Glass : Italian : Murano

Fratelli Toso Paperweight with Rare Horse Murrines

Ever wonder how those intricate murrines in paperweights or other glass articles are made?

The history of the Venetian  "millefiore" actually goes back to ancient Egypt during the time of the Roman occupation, when Egyptians were producing this type of glass rod.  The method of producing millefiori or "mosaic rods" was brought to the Roman Peninsula around 30 B.C., by Alexandrian craftsmen.

These early rods were produced by laying a bundle of colored glass rods so that a pattern or resembling a rosette or mosaic could be seen when veiwed at the end. The bundle was then tightly bound with reeds, and subject to intense heat to fuse the glass together.  It was found that these rods could then be heated, and while in a plastic state, could be pulled to any length and still retain the its original pattern in miniature.

During the 15th and 16th centuries the Venetians developed the methods to create more elaborate rods still used today.  Some intricate rods were produced first by pouring molten glass into a mold; often in the shape of animals, insects, dancing figures, or silhouette. These molded pieces formed the central core, or motif, of the finished rod. This core was then taken up on a punty and dipped several times in molten glass of a contrasting color or clear glass until it was well coated. The glass containing the core was then shaped into a cylinder by rolling it on the marver, this cylinder is then pulled to length retaining the core in its original pattern only greatly reduced. By combining sucessive coatings of glass in other colors, more pattern molding, add addition of other rods,  very elaborate mosaic could be formed..

Early mosaic glass by Jacopo Franchini, can be seen in the Smithsonian Institution, these mosaic pieces made around 1848 - 1850, contain figures of ladies in elegant gowns, and gentlemen in military uniforms, with sashes and medals, all in rods no larger in diameter than that of a modern lead pencil.

"Filigree glass" , the correct term for glass where two or more colors of glass are twisted together to form a lacy pattern, what many call "latticino" today, was orinally produced around the 1st or 2nd century B.C.. These rods are produced by twisting two or more rods of colored and clear glass together while in a plastic state then fusing them together under great heat.

Venetian techniques of glass manufacture were copied widely in the 19th century by Bohemian, French and English glass manufacurers, leading to many pieces being easily confused as Venetian or Murano glass. We will discuss these types in later entries.

In our next blog entry we will discuss how these rods and rod sections are transformed in the beautiful pieces of art we see, like the paperweight pictured in this entry.



Ferro Murano Glass Murrine Hat
January 20, 2014 - 2:53 pm
Vintage Arts : Decorative Art : Glass : Italian : Murano

Ferro Murano Glass Murrine HatThe many styles of glass murrine

Murrines: patterned glass slices or plaques that are prepared separately for use. Rods or small pieces of glass are melted together, either freehand or in a mold, then sliced horizontally to show the colorful cross-section

Murrina or "a murrine" is one of the most versatile and wide-used techniques in glass making. First used in the mid-east over 4000 years ago, and revived on Murano in the 1500's, it has become synonymous with Murano glass.

In some cases, like that shown in this Galliano Ferro hat, a single style of murrine is used to create a piece where all the murrines are distinct in the finshed form. Millefiore, or million flower, glass uses many different styles of murrines, of complimenting or contrasting colors and styles, to create a cohesive whole with each murrine also remaining wholly or partially distinct. In some cases the murrines are blurred or stretched, Barovier and Toso frequently blurred their murrines as a stylistic approach.

Venini used the "a murrina" in some of their designs in such a way that each identical murrine was indistnct from the next an formed an overall pattern appearing to be made from one piece of glass.

A related technique called "Tessera" uses flat pieces of glass, rather than cross-section murrines, melded together and formed or blown into the article desired. Venini named these pieces "pezzato" or patchwork glass. Barovier and Toso had a similar technique called "intarsio".

Mosaico or "mosaic" glass is another general term for either "a murrina",  Millefiore, or tessera vessels or objects.

The pieces are generally formed as follows: the murrines or tessera are laid on a marver in the pattern desired by the glass master, then a gather of hot molten glass is taken up on the punty or rod, and then the gather of molten glass is rolled over the pieces to pick them up onto the surface of the gather. The whole is then reheated in the furnace until the murrines are sufficiently heated to be blown or shaped into the final form.



Louis Vuitton Coffee Table Trunk - PRISTINE!
November 22, 2012 - 3:50 pm
New Century : Furniture

Louis Vuitton Coffee Table Trunk - PRISTINE!But my Vuitton won't fit under the seat!

Louis Vuitton Coffee Table Trunk - PRISTINE!

A friend asked me the other day, "What can I do with this luggage now that I can't take it on the plane?". Good question, with many good answers. One of which is pictured here, turn the item into useful home decor! We realized quite sometime ago that traveling with some of the older, larger and heavier pieces of Louis Vuitton that we owned can be tricky, expensive, and just plain inconvenient. That's when we discovered how useful many of these pieces are as home decor, display or even extra storage space. Large Louis Vuitton (or other maker) steamer trunks can be beautifully displayed at the foot of a bed, and double as storage for linen, or your extra sweaters. Smaller cube style trunks, such as hat boxes or linen trunks, have been used as end tables or night stands, to hold lamps, photos or your favorite piece of art glass, with more storage inside. Fitted with a custom base, with or without a glass top, large and medium sized suitcases become coffee tables, or accent tables, as shown here. Stacks of 2 or 3 suitcases can also be used in the same manner, or as simple room accents. I have seen a large fitted piece with a shelf used in a entry way as a place for hats and keys. Fitted pieces, with jars and boxes, can be used as accents on the dresser in a bedroom for a lavish touch, and can hold small items such as jewelry. One or two pieces can be used as display to simply accent a room, and spark conversation of real or imagined travels!



Louis Vuitton Shoe Trunk - Fab!
November 5, 2012 - 9:22 pm
Popular Collectibles : Specialty

 

Louis Vuitton Shoe Trunk - Fab!For the well "heeled"

Louis Vuitton Shoe Trunk - Fab!

Louis Vuitton, the original luxury goods designer, has been in business as a luggage manufacturer since 1854. Prior to making his first trunk Louis had made his name as a dress-packer, packing the clothes of the wealthy into their trunks for their voyages, so he knew his way around the interior of a trunk. His first trunk was not of the type we know today, nor was it covered in the fabric we know today. The first trunk was a domed style covered in a grey canvas, called Gris-Trianon. Later Louis was to create a trunk with a flat top that revolutionized the trunk industry as it allowed them to now be stacked. He also invented the lock in use today on Vuitton trunks, which is virtually pick proof, and afforded unlimited variable combinations. He quickly moved from the grey canvas, to a striped fabric (1873), then to a checkerboard (1889), or Damier, covering in order to stay ahead of the counterfeiters, yes, you heard me correctly, Vuitton has been copied since the beginning, and he did everything he could to prevent it, including copyrighting the Damier fabric, which contains the trademark as part of the design. The canvas used today, the Monogramme canvas, was designed by George Vuitton (Louis' grandson) in 1896 to honor his grandfather, and which was properly patented to foil counterfeiters. The Louis Vuitton signature brand had been born! Originally the design was woven into the fabric, but today is stencilled onto the fabric. Trunks of all kinds, were and continue to be made, for clothes, for hats, linens, shoes (like that shown here), desks, dishes, picnics; the list is exhaustive. Custom orders for specialty trunks (or large sets of up to 80 trunks) were made and can still be made, and is only limited by imagination and the size of your pocketbook. Louis Vuitton was born in the days when the wealthy traveller went on "holiday" and took almost everything they owned onto the ship or train with them, as they would be travelling for weeks or months. People did not travel light, and Louis Vuitton catered very successfully to that need! There is so much more to tell about this fascinating brand, that I will continue this in a future blog entry (maybe two).

The shoe trunk shown is a smaller hard sided case for six pairs of shoes, cases for up to 36 pairs are known to exist. The case is lined to protect the shoes from scuffs, and the accessory "pillows" keep the shoes from scuffing each other, as well as help keep them firmly held in the compartments. The lock will keep your shoes safe from thieves, and your sister whom may want to borrow your best pair!

To whet your appetite and give you more examples of items made and/or presented by the Vuitton brand here are a couple of addtional item photographs.

Vuitton Dish (made by Longwy)

 

Louis Vuitton Doll



Kosta Lindstrand
November 2, 2012 - 7:24 pm
Vintage Arts : Decorative Art : Glass : Scandinavian

Kosta Lindstrand "Trees in the Fog" VaseSome Background, Please

Kosta Lindstrand "Trees in the Fog" Vase

The vase pictured was created by possibly the most well known glass designer ever to work for Kosta (and for Orrefors, too!), Vicke Lindstrand.
Vicke Lindstrand (1904 - 1983) was artistic director for Kosta from 1950 to 1973, and was reponsible for one of Kosta's most innovative and popular periods.
Kosta Glasbruck (now known as Kosta Boda), was founded in 1742 in Kosta, Sweden, and originally made window glass, chandeliers and drinking glasses.
The company has over the years changed it's output to include pressed glass ware in the 1840's, and cut glass in the 1880's, to the fine art glass made today by their many talented designers, but it is the period of the 1950's through the early 1970's, under direction of Lindstrand, that saw the creation of many popular designs that collectors currently seek out.
Lindstrand was a sculptor and a draftsman, newspaper editor and illustrator, he then turned his artistic talent to glass. His designs include figurative as well as abstract designs, unique studio pieces, domestic glassware and sculpture. He created designes of both large and small scale for private and public spaces. He also designed ceramic ware for the Uppsala Ekeby firm in 1943 to 1950 before joining Kosta, and was glassblower/engraver, then designer, at Orrefors from 1928-1943.
The design for the vase "Trees in the Fog" was part of the "UNICA" series of hand formed one of a kind studio pieces created by Lindstrand in 1955/56, each piece is unique with no two exactly alike, due in part to the nature of the material and the whim of the designer. The design features somber trees of black glass embedded in crystal glass surrounded with a background of fog.
 



Rookwood Bellflower Vase in Matte glaze
November 2, 2012 - 7:23 pm
Vintage Arts : Decorative Art : Ceramics : American : Pottery

Rookwood Bellflower Vase in Matte glazeProduction Ware from Rookwood

Rookwood Bellflower Vase in Matte glaze

Unlike the artist painted vases produced by Rookwood, these particular items, called production ware, were created many times using different simple glazes with no artist embellishment, and therefore were more modestly priced. Most of this type of piece was meant as utilitarian ware, not as simply decorative art, and although meant for daily use, many pieces can be found in excellent undamaged condition. There are many styles available to a general collector of Rookwood ware, and merit collecting of and by themselves, and can be collected for far less than the more costly Artist pieces.

another example of Rookwood production ware



DeVilbiss Perfume Atomizer
October 18, 2012 - 10:50 pm
Popular Collectibles : Specialty : Bottles : Perfume

DeVilbiss Perfume AtomizerA little spritz will do!

DeVilbiss Perfume Atomizer

DeVilbiss is perhaps best known for it's wonderfully made, colorful glass bottles with delicate stems of the Deco period, rather than their later production in porcelian, but DeVilbiss was a company willing to try new materials and styles to keep pace with the American public. Of course, we all know DeVilbiss manufactured the hardware for these "perfumizers" not the glass, as this was purchased from prestigeous glass houses such as Stueben, Daum, and Durand, to name but a few. Their expertise was shown in their hardware which was well made and functional as well as delicate and beautiful, with hand crocheted coverings, as well as their eye toward what the buying public wanted. The cataloques produced by DeVilbiss to present their collections were also elaborate, colorful, with bound pages and  beautiful 5 color prints! The porcelian bottle with gold plated fittings shown here is from the late 1950's, presented the companies new innovation with an eye on the changing styles of the American household, and the need for a more modern look, which was at once beautiful and durable. It is not known who supplied the porcelian ware for these bottles, but the versions I've found have been all exemplary.  It is not just the ladies who collect and seek out DeVilbiss! DeVilbiss hardware was also (and still is) used in hospital, scientific and manufacturing applications, and have collectors seeking out older examples of these items as well, but it is the "perfumizer" that still commands the collector attention.

DeVilbiss is still in business today but the emphasis is on air compressors, and manufacturing applications not the the delicate history of their past.