Construction / Molds
Scoring / Breaking Glass
Fitting The Glass
Solder / Soldering
Releasing a Shade
Ring and Rim
Tools, Aids etc.
Health & Safety Concerns
Selling Your Artwork
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
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
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
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
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
•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;
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
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.