FAQ Index

Light Table

Construction / Molds

Choosing Glass

Pattern Preparation

Pattern Hints

Scoring / Breaking Glass



Fitting The Glass

Lamp Positioners

Solder / Soldering

Reinforcing Lamps

Special Considerations


Releasing a Shade

Ring and Rim



Special Applications

Tools, Aids etc.

Health & Safety Concerns


Selling Your Artwork

Workshop Renovations

Photographing Lamps


SB Anthony: The first thing to look for in making glass choices is to find glass that is specially made for Tiffany reproduction lamps, such as Youghiogheny, Oceana, Uroboros, Chicago Art Glass, Lins and Bullseye. Then, think of watercolors. Consider how the color is not at all flat, but varies in depth and intensity. Then think about a garden and how it really looks in the sunshine/filtered shade. Avoid the temptation to think in flat colors, like you find in a poster. Very few flowers present themselves flat - with open petals. They curve, are partially hidden, bent over themselves; sometimes they fold or lay sideways. Some petals shade other petals. A surprise splotch of light might appear. Color reflects from petal to leaf and leaf to petal. The background may not only be “sky”, but might contain a blurred vision of distant flowers, sunshine, leaves and earth. To strive for this representation in a lamp is referred to as “color bleeding”.
Paul Crist: Choose glass you love...don’t start a lamp with predetermined color ideas. Use ring mottles for the sparkle...that’s why it is an important glass.Strive for disharmony in a geometric background such as is in the 15” Spider. There is danger trying to exactly copy the glass we see in photos of Tiffany lamps since the photographed glass tends to look more opaque and photos don’t do justice to the translucence of the real thing.Leave some parts indefinite in your lamp so there is room for the viewer to use his imagination. (Is it a flower petal or a leaf?!) Search for and occasionally use the transparency found in Stipple glass. Chipped, chunk glass makes nice flower centers.The natural form of the Peacock lamp calls for streaky glass for the feathers. Sculpt the layers of feathers with shading to achieve a dimensional look. Use color bleeding extensively: in other words, contaminate one color with another and never make flowers all one color. Choose your glass for the depth, richness and complexity it exhibits as well as its color.
Peter Grotepass: When selecting glass for a lamp, I put the glasses side by side onto my light table, (it is approx.25 " X 35") and switch on all the lights. What I want to control by doing that is the color harmony of the different glasses, (for flowers, for background, for leaves, for the border, etc). I keep my eye on color relationships among the glasses. For example: if I want to make a Poppy with red flowers, I have to select a background glass with a litte bit of red in it, and I have to look for glass for leaves with some hints of red in it, and a border, where there is a little bit of red in it......and so on. Of course I do not use a red background glass, and I do not select red glass for leaves, but- you know, there has to be a little bit of red in the glasses beside their main characteristic color, which could be, for example, a kind of transparent blue for the background and green (probably with turquoise) for the leaves in this case. The appearance of the glass when the lamp is unlit is unimportant to me.
Carol Conti: Choosing glass for the Waterlily is fun to do. One way of cutting flowers is to cut out one flower and, if you are temporarily satisfied with it, move on to the next flower. If you're not happy with parts of that first flower, you might be able to use it in another easel ( at least that's what I tell myself!) You could also cut all the flowers for one easel out of "similar"(but not identical) glass - say very pale pinks then cut the flowers of the second easel from medium pinks and the third easel flowers out of darker pinks. Lay the three easels on your light table and start "flower arranging"! You might decide to leave the darker pinks in one area and work out - from each side of this area with lighter flowers, or you might move them around so you have a variety of flower colors throughout your lamp. After you are satisfied with your arrangement, you can start on the background and try to blend the colors in your background around the specific flower that you've set in place. The lilypads and leaves should reflect the "feeling" of the flowers and the background that are in their area. The critical border row is always the last thing I deal with. When the "body" of the lamp is completed, it seems to be so much easier to decide on which glass will tie the lamp together and not compete with it.

Nikki O’Neill: “Bleeding” is using a color in a different element of the lamp than where you would logically expect it to be. Examples would be to show some pink or red on a green leaf, or use glass that shows a few green streaks on flower petals. Thus the petal references the green color and vice versa. Not only does this look more real, but these spots of color catch the eye and keep it moving around the lamp. This is another way to get away from “paint by numbers” where roses are red, leaves are green and the background is blue. Another example might be to use a little amber in a leaf or jewel if that color is also being used in a border row. Tiffany was a master of color - using this technique extensively.
Andrea King: Nature is our best teacher when studying the reflection of light and its relation to colour...you only have to look around your garden to see how the colour of blooms seem to wash or bleed into the background causing it to become a “hazy” sort of scene.
Joyce Mattson: Good examples of “color bleeding” can be found in paintings by the masters when you find unexpected but totally gratifying hints of color that are repeated in differenct areas and subjects of a painting.
Paul Crist: In “color bleeding” we try to enhance a natural scene by harmonious use of light and shadow in our glass. Remember that a color affects the colors that surround it. an example would be to choose a flower color and have that color reflect in the background glass.

•Balance. The color intensity of glass used in flowers should duplicate the intensity of leaves, borders and background.
•Bleeding (cross-referencing). Background glass should pick up some colors found in flowers and leaves. The aim is to make this appear to be a reflection.
•A streaky background, showing colors that are found in blossoms and leaves, will add contrast but will still blend in with the blossoms and leaves.
•A bold background can be used to define “strong” flowers and leaves. Such a sharp contrast also allows similarly colored flowers to stand apart from each other...a beautiful battle of colors - with no winners or losers! An example of this contrast can be seen in the “Wisteria Laburnum” shade by Penny Chamberlain (April, 2005 calendar).
•Flower petals or leaves can become background. Background pieces can become petals or leaves.
•Use a lighter background color to surround light colored buds; background
can be deeper around more deeply colored mature flowers.
•Highlights of color in some areas of the background glass can give the impression of other plants in your landscape. In fractured glass, the colored flakes can mimic bits of sky, grass or flowers.
•For a floral design, try fading to lighter hues of the glass as you move from the bottom of the shade to its upper section. The background of waterlilies and fish is water, so the background can become more intense as you move up toward to the aperture. The background for dragonflies can either be interpreted as water or sky so fade up or fade down....or possibly make the central section of the design more pronounced by employing the dominant areas of your background glass at the center.
•As long as the glass you are using for the background is essentially the same color, try a combination of textures - mottles, ripples and/or fractured glass. An example can be seen in the “Flowering Lotus” by John Melz (January, 2005 calendar) When John submitted the photo of this shade to us for calendar consideration, he wrote “Many times when we see reproductions of this shade, the bottom irregular rim has been crafted of glass that was entirely too dense for the lower section of petals. Because of the angle of the rim, coupled with dense glass, the rim usually “goes dead” when lighted. I eliminated this negative aspect by using very translucent - and highly opalescent glass at the bottom. It catches and transmits light quite beautifully. The upper purple background is Youghiogheny, but the purple below and between the flowers is Bullseye ripple - with the same value of purple, but with the addition of other subtle colors. Additional texture gives an extra” movement to the overall composition.
Bonnie Eckert considers Scott Riggs from Huntington Beach, California, to be one of the most talented artists in our time. She contacted Scott and asked for some comments about backgrounds. Here is his reply: “I really put a great deal of thought into my lamp backgrounds today, but we have to use the glass that we have or can get. If we tried to do color bleeding on every piece, we would all have to be glass suppliers and go into the business of making glass. Lately, I have been trying to get a flow in my backgrounds by strip cutting - like on the gridwork of the Pansy I’ve just completed. This was my most challenging bvackground so far. The real trick in backgrounds is to get a great fade in a geometric shade with the flow of glass going horizontal. I just do not like the checkerboard look in a geometric. Sometimes I will strip cut a geometric vertically, then arrange the long pieces together so that they are similar to the ones next to them. Then I separate the pieces and keep it all in order. It seems my taste in shades changes constantly and I love the different challenging aspects of each and every one that I do. To me, there is just something very pleasing to my eye when I see a fade or transition in any background. I keep trying to pull it off.”
Nikki O’Neill: I’ve come to think that the background really sets the whole mood of a lamp. I remember seeing a Tiffany Poppy during a visit to Nemacolin Woodlands. This particular Poppy is very special in its overall impression of the whole color scheme and the way the background works with the foreground. This lamp has been in my head ever since! The background was a mottled light gray color which made the poppies pop. It didn’t fight with the foreground elements, but complemented them very well - leaving a very “clean” look.

Peter Grotepass: I look for the flowers in the glass as it lays on my light table. When I find an area in the glass that “shows” me a flower, I put my transparent windows over the area and draw all the petals of this particular flower. It seems there is much imagination used as I build a flower. I try to make some flowers seem dense inside and transparent on the outside. To develop an eye for this, begin by laying out a flower that is simply dark on the inside and lighter on the outside.


Tiffany lamps were meant to be lit so that the art glass that was used could be fully admired. An exception would be the dichroic glass that Tiffany specifically produced. A lamp using this glass could be appreciated by being lit or unlit.

Joe Porcelli: Take care if you are using an iridescent glass. This glass could cloud because of a reaction between the metals in the glass and the chemicals in the flux and patina. If clouding is present, try spraying the lamp with a light coat of high quality satin finish lacquer. (First, test it on a piece of scrap glass.)

By running the texture of rippled glass lengthwise (horizontally) on a border, you can reduce the harshness of a geometric edge. If more sparkle is your goal, use the rippled surface on the outside. The rough textured side of fractured glass should be turned inward.
Shauna Palmer: A great friend of mine suggested that by reversing textured glass pieces you can create interest and dimension and add a feeling of life and activity to your glass work. In my latest work, I reversed glass in some of the flowers to emphasize the petals and make them more realistic. This is a great way to get two coordinated looks from one sheet of glass.
Barb Grollo: As to the question of texture "in" or texture "out", I find it really depends on what I'm trying to achieve. I tend to use it out, mostly because the "back" of the glass often looks irregularly mixed, and doesn't lend itself to being too visible. Of course, it depends on the glass. If I'm looking for a glass for a mountain range, I prefer the unmixed quality. Sometimes for water, using the ripple on the inside, gives more depth to the water and the feeling of movement and currents. I think it depends on the project and the glass.
Walt Boepple:The reason to use the granite (textured) side on the inside is to refract the light, to send it in all different directions as the light comes through.
Jo Anna Vitale: An ongoing discussion in my studio concerns texture up vs texture down. One of my employees always lays it down, while I decide based on the glass, on the individual piece and what artistic mood I'm in. But, for the most part I use the texture up; this applies to ripples, seedies, noogies, ice and granites. With Bullseye glass, I might use the "shiny " side for flowers but flip it to the backside for the part of the flower that turns out. I use a lot of Bullseye green for leaves and sometimes use the "back" in front because it feels and looks like leathery leaves. I generally use Uroborus textures up because they are so beautiful and Youghiogheny, well once again, it depends on my mood!

Carol Conti: Large transparent areas that are sometimes found in a sheet of glass are referred to as “hot spots”. If used in a lamp, these areas are without any color and would allow the glare of the light bulb to show through the lampshade. This can become a problem if we are reproducing a pattern with large pieces - such as in the peony design, but hot spots would not be a concern with a pattern like the wisteria, since random hot spots would add some wonderful sparkle to the lamp. (One of the reasons we use mottled glass in our lamps is because of its tiny hot spots that tend to mimic the sun’s reflections on a flower petal.) Along the edges of some sheets of glass there may be an abundance of hot and unusable areas that give no indication of color. Gradually though, the color that we are seeking starts to appear - working its way into the sheet until the distinctive colors take over. Many times there is a lot of waste in such a sheet of glass, so, in order to salvage more of the sheet to use in a lamp, we might try to sandblast or etch those parts where the color is gradually entering the scene.
Don Hughes: Rather than sandblast a whole sheet of glass that contains a predominance of hot spots, it is better to cut the glass pieces first and then sandblast the cut pieces. Number the pieces that need to be sandblasted, turn these pieces upside down, attach them with Tacky Wax to a wooden board and then do the sandblasting. This saves wear and tear on cutting tools - especially if you are trying to cut on the blasted side of the sheet.
Lynne Salcetti: Many special effects that I’ve achieved in my lampmaking have been arrived at by trial and error. For instance, I’ve tried different methods to help tone
down “hot spots” in the glass. One product that I’ve used with success is Armour Etch which helped obscure some hot spots in a sheet of glass. I’ve also used it on the bottom of glass globs to soften the look of the color. The results were so good that I was able to use the globs as flower centers in a daisy lamp. I’ve also plated glass by soldering a second piece of glass under the first. I did this when I wanted to save the jewel tones of antique glass, but didn’t want the glare of the light bulb showing through. I plated the antique glass with clear cracked ice glass so that it ended up with a two dimensional look...a very interesting effect! On my last lamp, I sandblasted the backside of an entire sheet with mixed results. You couldn’t see through to the light bulb, but the shadow of the bulb wasn’t really dispersed enough. In reality, sandblasting produces a deeper version of what the etching cream can do.
Nikki O’Neill: A technique to use on small glass pieces to obscure their hot spots is to grind the backside. I made some little dragonfly eyes out of green cathedral glass to use in my last lamp, but they turned out looking too much like beady eyes that followed you around the room! My solution was to use a disk grinder with a 360 grit disk and hold the back of each eye on it for just a second or two. The result was a softer look...actually a more realistic look and the grinding also allowed me to even out the thickness of the glass eyes. We shouldn’t try to obscure all hot spots in our glass, though. Many authentic Tiffany lamps have an abundance of hot spots. The glass he used was so variable and organic - sort of like dappled sunlight and reflections.
Joan Luckhurst: Sandblasting the back of some “hot” pieces of Uroboros in the background of my Cobweb lamp seemed to help diffuse the light and increase the sparkle and color.

Vic Seested: I’m putting the finishing touches on a dogwood using Lins and Schlitz glass. The thickness of the different sheets of flower glass varies from 1/16th inch to 1/4th inch. Having such a difference in thickness of pieces next to each other presents an interesting choice ...do I build up the thinner pieces to match the height of the thicker pieces (using balls of wax) or should I solder the lamp, holding out the thicker pieces to sink into the shade after it is off the mold?
Lynne Salcetti: I’d let the flower petals stick up to emphasize the high relief and shadows they would cast. No one ever said that a lamp’s surface has to be smooth.
Mike Barnes:I would leave the thicker pieces sticking up. In one of my lamps I used drapery glass for the flowers and had pieces that curved out from the plane of the lamp’s surface. After seeing Tiffany’s Magnolia windows at the Morse Gallery, I even left some tops of the rounded edges of my flower petals unfoiled.
Mary Ritter: I think it adds a lot of interest to have different thicknesses of glass. My rule of thumb, though, is that I don’t want thinner cuts of glass overlapping thicker pieces. If, for example, I have a blossom made of thin glass that should appear to be overlapping a leaf of thicker glass, I would want to lift the blossom higher than the leaf because the blossom is more in the foreground. Maybe you could think of it in terms of layering from foreground through middle ground to background. Blossom pieces toward the front should be higher than the middle leaf pieces and the background should be set back furthest of all, i.e., flat on the mold. This will result in more of a three dimensional shade.

Nikki O’Neill: The wave of new glass has led to an interesting new vocabulary. “Hot” glass - i.e. furnace work, has been around awhile, most notably glass from Murano. Recently “warm” glass - i.e. kiln-formed glass has become the rage; probably because you don’t need a furnace and it’s more versatile than being limited to working at the end of a pontil (punty). It’s warm glass that is just beginning to be accepted as art by galleries and collectors. Another interesting term is cold fusion - i.e. glues of all sorts. It seems we lamp-makers do another kind of cold working - foiled or leaded. Then there’s flame-working, which used to be called lamp-working.