Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mid-Century Art Glass*

Note: Originally published at the 2Modern Design Talk blog.

Mid-century furniture has made a return over the last few years. We now can appreciate Eames, Le Corbusier, Saarinen, Bertoia, et al. The furnitures style with its new fluidity and curves was the artistic focus of decor. It was a big change from the fussier and heavier designs of earlier years. But what about the accessories, the background items that "dress" the room?

25" tall floor vase and 11" tall table vase

The 50s and 60s introduced new shapes and colors in decor with ceramics and glass. Some glass work falls under a category called art glass. One style of art glass that I admire is known as the "swung" glass vase. It is created with a technique where hot glass is held by its base with a special tool and swung in a circle before the glass cools, therefore, pulling and elongating the mouth of the piece.

I used to see art glass at thrift stores all the time in the 1980s. They come in great rich shades of blue, red, amber, green, and purple. Almost all of the American glass manufacturers were based in West Virginia and some of the names to look for are Blenko, Kanawha, Morgantown, Pilgrim, Rainbow, and Viking.


The most well known one would be Blenko, whose pieces now fetch huge prices and exhibit in museums around the country. Their design control and color artistry is amazing. Purchasing a Blenko would be an investment. However, if you cannot afford one, there are many gems to be found at your local thrift store or neighborhood yard sale. It is true that some people do not know what they have; you might get lucky.

*Forgive the lame title, my brain was fried.

1 comment:

kay* said...

right now i have a bit of a *thing* for glass. am seriously considering starting a collection of milk glass and/or depression glass. i'm planning a post about it soon.