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Stained Glass and Tiffany Style Lamps Evoke Nostalgia

Feb 29, 2008
Considered one of the great contributions to the Art Nouveau movement, stained glass lamps have remained very popular. With a characteristic stained glass shade, Tiffany lamps became the standard for these beautiful light fixtures. Taking full advantage of the widening availability electricity, stained glass lamps are a great example of form following function.

Following the success of the original Tiffany designs, many other styles of stained glass lamps were produced. Though the term Tiffany is often used to describe stained glass lamps, there is only one Tiffany. The concept of a table lamp was not new in the late eighteen hundreds. Oil and gas table lamps had been in wide use by the time Thomas Edison and other inventors began marketing electric light bulbs.

The first Tiffany lamps appeared at the turn of the twenty century. Each lamp was made by hand and reflected the work of the individual artist. The base of the lamp was typically made of brass or bronze. It should be pointed out that several copies of a particular design were made but the lamps were never mass produced. Even though several copies of a pattern were produced, each lamp shade has a one of a kind feel imparted by the individual artist. Louis Tiffany gained experience in working with glass as a maker of stained glass windows. Working with pieces of scrap, he began to design lamp shades. He utilized standard methods of production that were used in creating stained glass windows.

Leaded stained glass is typically made from cut pieces of colored glass. A pattern would be drawn and cut then used to score and cut the individual pieces of the glass puzzle. The edges of each piece of glass would be covered in copper metal foil than soldered together.

In the days of Louis Tiffany and until recently, lead based solders were used, hence the basis for the term leaded glass. Lead has been removed from most solders since lead is now considered a hazardous material. Once the soldering is completed, the joints would be cleaned and given a treatment. The treatment would involve applying a patina to the solder.

Tiffany lamps are characterized by several distinctive patterns. Some tiffany designs were based in the use of geometric shapes ranging from squares and rectangles to triangles and ovals. Tiffany also created beautiful floral patterns in a variety of shapes. Florals were often combined with some type of geometric pattern.

Cone shaped lamp shades are more difficult to produce. The pieces of glass were generally smaller than the glass used to make geometric shapes. The difficult task of creating a cone shape shade makes this class of Tiffany lamp more expensive and highly collectible. Not all of the shades produced by Tiffany featured a flat edge. The irregular patterns often came in a globe shape with edges that were irregularly shaped. The patterns were less geometric and more free flowing in design.

Regardless of which pattern it is, a genuine Tiffany lamp can fetch quite a high price. The highest price ever paid for a Tiffany lamp at auction is reported to be over eight million dollars.

For those of us who can not afford the high price of genuine Tiffany, there are some reasonable alternatives. There are lamp makers who offer reproductions of Tiffany patterns for a fraction of the cost you might expect to pay for the genuine article.

There are some very high quality reproductions and original designs done in the Tiffany style by modern artists. It is common to see glass mosaic designs on some of the lamp bases.

If you fancy the idea of owning a genuine Tiffany lamp, it pays to do your homework. As with any type of collectible, there are many fakes and knockoffs of the genuine article. There are Tiffany knockoffs are very well made and will certainly fool an untrained buyer. Be certain to educate yourself about the unique qualities of genuine Tiffany before you commit to a purchase.
About the Author
Mitch Endick is a staff writer for the quality online store FineWebStores.com.
Shop for Stained Glass Lamps for your home. Please visit FineWebStores.com today.
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