Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gazing at Glass

The coolest thing ever. This large globe on a pedestal is a hand blown object that is one complete piece. It is seamless and of such clarity and reflection it really is hard not to lose yourself staring into it. This gazing balls were made mid 19th century by firing them with silver and Mercury. You can see the cork on the bottom that would be used to basically keep the mercury "in."
Some referred to them as "Butler's Balls." They could be used on tables or in rooms so staff could keep an eye on their employers need unobtrusively. I Imagine If this thing broke you would need a hazmat team to clean it up.
These must have fetched a pretty penny. We have those gazing balls they put in gardens today but thankfully we don't fill them with poision.
i do wonder how many rich children broke them just to chase the mercury around the parlor floor? I have destinct memories of doing that with athermometer when I was a little kid.

Less than sparkling
In contrast to my exciting "Butler Ball" I looked at a more plain Amber looking ball. This is hand blown and it looks as if it was broken on the ponti. There is a hole that is not filled with anything.
The glass is amber indicating sulfer compounds being added. Gazing balls were popular in the victorian period but have roots to the thirteenth century. Interestingly I found several on-line sources that claim "Southerners" kept them in the garden so they could see their guests coming and get the hose clean or duck out of site respectively. As a southener I only wish I had installed one in my garden back home.

Venice? Maybe

I sent my son to Italy in High School and all I got were these glass cups.

It was a sweat story that Christian had bought these cups in the Pizza Sam Marco and had accidently left them in the square. Hours later he went back to the last person he had seen, a man selling crumbs to feed the birds and when he asked him had he seen some red venitian glasses, he took them from his coat and said Theese Glasses?
I have no ilusions that these are worth a great deal of money. They are hand blown. I can see the pontil on the bottom pontil but it looks as if it has been sanded. The color of the glass is red as if gold was used in the firing to color it and there is gold leaf on the outside in an ornate floral pattern.

A couple of Selections from The Cupboard

Two smal glasses from the China cabinet reveal the diffrences between glass and crystal.
One is a desert dish and the other is a port glass. Emphasis on the glass. The desert dish is heavy and refracts the light with almost sharp diamond and triangle shapes that surround the glass. It is heavy for such a small glass. It makes a wonderful variety of high pitched tones when struck on the rim and near the stem.
The sherry glass is a duller color and while it picks up the light it doesn't have the same clarity. It also has the hollow tink of a coke bottle o matter where you hit it. It's slightly dull and while it is comprable in ize it is lighter.There are seams on both sides of the glass indicating that it must be pressed glass.
Both of these items a probably 20th century and there is a good chance they were made in Asia as my father was in the Navy and much of our "Chin"a is from his travels.

Swirly Glass
Not the technical material culture name and yet-swirly glass. This ornate bowl is blown glass and probably of New York origin. This aqua marine blue is indicative of glassware made in shops on the glass makers own time. The swirly flower Patel pa tern and color are tell tale signs of glass work done in the mi to middle of the 19Th century.
Clearly on the bottom is the pontil marking where it was broken away after firing and cooling.
This looks like an item that a glass maker made for the pure pleasure of it. It is over sized and of no formal use other than a decorative bowl. It looks like the kind of piece where they were testing their ability to make large hand wrought pieces without having them fall apart due to their size.

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