Tiffany Table Lamps
Louis Comfort Tiffany
The tiffany lamp has to be one of the finest embodiments of design and craftsmanship from the late 19th and early 20th century period which saw a flowering of the creative arts.
Created by Louis Comfort Tiffany, an outstanding artist craftsman designer who was inspired at an early age by the fine objects created by the designers and craftsmen at his fathers company Tiffany and co. in New York.
Although he started his artistic career as a painter Tiffany was a prolific designer and creator who turned his hand to many fields of art and design. He was involved in the design of furniture, pottery metalwork; jewellery in fact there was hardly any area of art and design which escaped his talents.
Tiffany Glass Studio
Around the late 1870s he became interested in glass and its possibilities as a design medium and went on to create probably the most famous glass design studio in the world, renowned for all manner of stunning glass works from vases to stained glass windows and panels and of course the famous Tiffany Lamps.
Tiffany Dragonfly Lamp
I’m sure you must have seen pictures of the lamps even if you haven’t seen one “In the flesh” they are gorgeous works of art. The famous “dragonfly design” is one of the Tiffany studios most well known lamp designs though it was actually designed by Clara Driscoll who started working for Tiffany in 1887 she designed the Dragonfly lamp in1904 in which year it won a prize at the Paris International Exposition.
It seems the women who worked in the glass studio worked mostly on the naturalistic lamp designs which featured plant forms and the men worked more on the geometric designs.
Tiffany Copper Foil Method
Although he may not have invented the copper foil technique of stained glass work , which is now commonly referred to as “Tiffany style” he certainly made great use of it because it allows for much finer detail and more delicate design work then the traditional leaded glass method. It also allows the creation of more intricate and extravagant shapes of lampshade. Leaded shades are naturally more geometric in nature.
To create these delicate designs the pieces of stained glass are cut to shape according to the pattern then the edges of each piece are wrapped with narrow strips of copper foil which is rubbed or “burnished” tight onto the glass. Next, with the aid of some type of flux the copper foil is cleaned to enable the pieces to be soldered together. Usually the pieces are place together on a former or mold once the outside of the lamp is fully soldered the inside needs to be soldered too. This gives added strength as well as being aesthetically pleasing. Once the soldering is completed the lampshade is cleaned and attached to a lamp base again in Tiffanies case the bronze lamp bases are beautiful creations inspired by natural organic forms.
The "Tiffany Whisper"
Sadly most of us will never be able to own a genuine Tiffany lamp, fortunately there are many skilled artists working in stained glass who make stunning recreations of may styles of Tiffany lamps. Unfortunately there are many cheap imitations of very poor quality on the market but you would never mistake them for a quality product. It’s a pity people can get away with calling things “Tiffany” or “antique” when they are no such thing.
Incidentally, if you ever come across a lamp shade in a flea market or yard sale and you think it might be genuine (or dream it might be) then it is said that due to the age of the real thing and the fact that the glue holding the copper foil tape to the glass has long since dried up the pieces of glass are all slight loose in their solder cage, so if you shake the lamp shade gently you will hear the glass move this is the “Tiffany Whisper”. Is it true? Who knows? But buy it quickly, keep a straight face and hope.