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Antiques On Bardwell

Vittorio Ferro Murano Murrine Vase

August 4, 2015 11:51 am
Popular Collectibles : Decorations : Glass

Vittorio Ferro Murano Murrine Vase

Any way you slice it!

In our last entry we talked about how 'millefiore' rods and Filigree rods are made, now I want to talk about how art glass pieces are made from these "component parts", but before I begin I want to give you an idea of how varied and complex these "component parts" for this type of glass can be.

Fratelli Toso, one of the top producers of glass on the island of Murano, is known to have produced over 1500 unique and different millefiore designs! The possibilites are limited only by the glass makers imagination.

 The "millefiore" rods, before they can be used to greatest effect , must be sliced into pieces to expose the design within to its admiring public. The rods are first heated until they are in a pliable plastic state then cut through either cleanly straight up and down into flat disks, or obliquely to expose more surface area, depending on what the glass artist desires in the finished product.

These pieces are then laid out onto a marver in the pattern determined by the glass artist when a regular pattern is desired, or it can be completely random, as in the "scrambled" glass paperweights. The piece shown with this entry is an example of a regular mosaic pattern, where the slices are placed in a determined pattern and interspersed with clear and colored glass rods. These rods not only add to the intricacy of the design, but also act as guides to keep the mosaic slices aligned as the artist intended during the steps that follow.

Next, a ball of molten glass is gathered from the gloryhole onto the end of a punty (a long metal pipe) and this glob of molten glass is then rolled over the millefiore slices on the table by the glass master to pick them up. The molten ball and the adhering slices are then, rolled on the marver to securely adhere the slices to the ball. This ball may then be dipped into molten glass to completely cover the millefiore or not. The ball with the adhering slices is then heated at the gloryhole to bring the whole to a plastic state to be blown or worked into the desired object. The piece may also be stretched or twisted to add interest and variation to the finished piece.

In the case of the paperweight, the slices are picked up on the molten glob, and then dipped several times in molten crystal glass until a sufficient glass dome has been bulit up over the embeded glass pieces., which is then smoothed and worked to by the glass artist to crystal perfection.

Filgree rods are treated in much the same way, except these are usually not cut into slices, but cut to length, and laid out again on a marver in the desired pattern. Clear crystal rods are usually interspersed to aid in keeping the desired pattern and spacing in the finished product. A ball of clear crystal glass is used to gather the fancy colored rods up to be worked, and once heated this crystal glob and the crystal joining rods, blend together leaving only the colored twists and turns of the filgree rods visble to the eye in the finished product.

With these simple techniques, well, simple for the trained glass master, glass articles of complex design and endless variety of color have been created for centuries each totally unique from the next owing to the nature of medium and the imagination of the human mind.

In our catalog:

Fratelli Toso Paperweight with Rare Horse Murrines

July 29, 2015 11:11 am
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 9:53 am
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 10:50 am
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 4:22 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