Posted 8 months ago
One of the benefits of being here on CW is the exposure to different forms and ideas from a wide variety of sources. Armed with new ideas the ‘hunt’ can be for ‘different beasts’. The folks on CW have renewed my interest on occasions recently. I especially like optic effects that can be created in industrial moulded glass techniques. Many thanks go to lovedecanters and Justanovice for their recent posts.
Last week I came across this vase at Vinnies by Webb's Crystal Glass Company. I suppose it might date to the mid thirties but the design was produced well into the Fifties, I believe.
This vase has a polished pontil but there is no acid etched Webb mark within it. But the tell tale design feature is the typical Webb wave-ribbed that has a 4-sided effect when seen from above. This is different from the later Whitefriars range of wave-ribbed glass that has a 6-sided effect. John Walsh Walsh had a 16 sided version.
I have found reference to a standard range of colours for Gay Glass: Green, Bristol Green, Amber, Clear, Amethyst and Blue.
Inside the ”The Gay Glass range” there were four different finishes: Plain, Venetian Ripple, Old English Bull's Eye and the rarer Cut Water Lily.
The designer of the Gay Glass range is given by the V&A Museum as Thomas F. Pitchford.
This vase of mine is one of the ‘Venetian Ripple’ designs. Strange name, no? Venetian Ripple. To my eye it is more reminiscent of the optical pieces being produced in the 1930’s by Orrefors. I’m reminded of the shapes of Edward Hald.
It looks Scandinavian. But I believe the name comes from the wave connection in the John Walsh Walsh examples. They called their famous ripple range "Vesta Venetian" and had either 16-sided or 18-sided optical effects.
The colour of my example is really quite vibrant. It looks darker and different to the other Amethyst vases I’ve seen on the net. Justanovice’s vase is the same shape and I think looks like it would react to ‘black light’. So I tested my vase too for reaction to the UV light. I was surprised when it too showed a light green as well! I had read that Webb put uranium in three colours to create more vibrant colours: Sunshine Amber, Evergreen and Eau de Nil. Perhaps this vase was made from glass that had included uranium used to make them?
“The uranium was in the form of potassium diuranate, and, neglecting the loss of water on fusion of the mix, the published formulae equate to uranium contents of 1.15%, 1.16% and 0.23% uranium by wt. respectively. I consider that the marked items of these colours are sufficiently reproducible for them to be used for Geiger calibration.
More reading on the topic showed that the recipe for this uranium glass came with the arrival of Sven Fogelberg in 1932.
Fogelberg and his wife were formerly employed at Kosta glassworks, Småland, Sweden. The Victoria & Albert Museum has a piece of the Gay Glass range described as: “The Gay Glass range was introduced in 1933. Like glass made by other, contemporary manufacturers such as Whitefriars, the smooth, fluid shapes relying on the qualities of the glass itself for effect, owe much to the prevailing taste for simple sculptural forms made popular by more innovative continental glassmakers. The Sunshine Amber colour contains a significant amount of uranium and was made from a recipe supplied by Webb's Swedish General Manager, Sven Fogelberg, formerly employed at Kosta glassworks, Småland, Sweden.”
During his time at Webb’s Sven Fogelberg “was responsible for converting the traditional furnaces from coal to oil firing in 1933. This increased productivity due to a shorter melting-time. Fogelberg also introduced new glass-making techniques, using glass-makers from the Continent. He was appointed Managing Director of Webb's in 1955, and retired in 1963.”