Cut and etched glass
May 2, 2014 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
By the 1920s and 30s, glass makers were responding to the unstoppable Art Deco trends: geometry and nature. Artisans revived antique glass cutting techniques to achieve the angular, bold patterns customers were craving. Coupling a rotating stone wheel with a lasting polish made the final pieces sparkle and glow. Sometimes the level of polishing would vary throughout the same piece, thus creating a clean aesthetic. Glass carving with a rotating stone was first explored in France at the Daum Frères Glass Works. You’ll see an example of their carved work posted later in the article. For now, let’s explore more about cut and etched glass.
What is cut and etched glass known for?
Since this style thrived during the Art Deco era, it stood to reason that the shapes and forms would be streamlined. Angular handles, monochromatic colors (such as white, gold, pink, green, turquoise, and blue), curved shapes, and thicker-walled pieces were common for this time. As we mentioned above, natural elements were a popular theme. Gazelles, deer, birds, and flowers were heavily referenced. The Cubist art movement brought geometries and abstractions to the forefront as well.
These designs found an international stage and their representation at the 1925 Paris Exhibition inspired countless artists. In New Zealand this influence inspired designers such as Keith Day Murray to incorporate sculptural elements into his work. He explored fluting, grooves, and engraved geometries. Pieces from this firm are most known for their chevron motifs and green color.
Perhaps no other company brought the cut and etched glass movement to the forefront like Steuben Glass Works. Based in Corning, New York, Steuben was the premiere designer for decorative glass pieces during the Art Deco period. They were traditionally known for their use of colored glass, but by the Jazz Age they began exploring other approaches. Collaborating with the famed sculptor Sidney Biehler Waugh created one of their most popular pieces, the Gazelle Bowl. Created in 1932, it is often considered Waugh’s best work and captures the zenith of this movement. The twelve gazelles are shown in spectacular detail, which was made possible due to the high quality of the crystal.
Cause A Frockus would like to thank their tremendous resources: “Miller’s 20th Century Design: The Definitive Illustrated Sourcebook” by Judith Miller, CMOG, and the people who post their imagery without restriction.
For our readers: Do you collect cut and etched glass? If so, tell us about your favorite piece in your collection!