Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Steuben crystal animals – art, not science

Steuben Glass Incorporated’s signature range of crystal glass animals originated in 1949 with “The Snail” and grew into an ever-growing managerie in the 1950s.

Steuben Glass Snail
The Steuben glass animals are unusual in that they combine the flowing, fluid forms of Art Nouveau and the massive, geometric lines of Art Deco. Neither of these artistic styles was still in vogue by the 1940s, although At Deco was still influencing some architects.

Steuben Glass Trout
Many Steuben glass animals, such as The Whale, The Trout and The Lion, make very striking ornaments. Others are just twee. The Owl is a good example of twee - and we won’t even mention The Koala!

Representation versus replication
Steuben’s glass animals are part of a long history of glass artists creating glass models of plants and animals. However, Steuben’s animals are in the realm of art, not science. Each one interprets its subject in glass, whereas other glass artists have sought to replicate the original plant or animal with scientific accuracy.

For example, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Dresden glass artists Leopold Baschker and his son Rudolph created hundreds of scientifically accurate glass models (to scale and enlarged) of plants and animals for universities and museums. (See “[Glass] Art imitating life” on this blog, 29 January 2018)

Similarly, contemporary Venetian glass artist Mauro Vianello creates meticulous replicas of plants and animals – especially marine life – for universities, research centres and museums. (See “Glass adds a shimmer to summer” on this blog, 12 January 2018) Mauro is Artist in Residence at the 2018 Festival of Glass, where he will demonstrate his glass art magic and teach beginning and advanced glass artists some tricks of his trade.

Steuben Glass – a short history
Steuben Glass Whale
The company originated as the Steuben Glass Works, founded in 1903 by Thomas G. Hawkes, an Irish-American glass engraver, and Frederick Carder, an English glassmaker. They named the company after its location in Steuben County in the south-west of New York state. In 1918, the nearby Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated) bought Steuben. In 1933, Steuben created a formula for crystal that was stronger than ordinary glass, with a very high refractive index that made it reflect and refract light better than any other. What followed were Steuben’s ‘golden years’, which ended in 2008, when Corning sold Steuben to the Schottenstein Stores Corp. of Columbus, Ohio. In 2011, Schottenstein closed Steuben, but Corning re-purchased the Steuben brand name; and in 2013, Corning licensed The Corning Museum of Glass to oversee sales and production of Steuben glassware.
Plaut, J. S. (1972) Steuben Glass. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. (3rd revised edn.)
Steuben Glass web site https://www.steuben.com/

Footnote - the Steuben Lion
The Steuben Lion resembles the lion in the Holden cars current version of the ‘lion and stone’ logo. The logo has evolved significantly from its original, designed for Holden by Rayner Hoff in 1929. It refers to a prehistoric fable, in which observations of lions rolling stones led humans to invent the wheel.
Steuben Lion
Holden's 'lion and stone' logo

Holden's original logo

Featured Festival of Glass sponsor: Decal Specialists 
The Festival of Glass committee is very grateful to Decal Specialists for supporting the 2018 Festival of Glass - in particular, for sponsoring the "Encouragement - Best in Show" Glass Art Award.

The company manufactures ... well ... decals! Decals can be applied to any solid sealed surface, enabling artists to ‘import’ a lacquered image to the surface of their work. The company stocks a range of images, or they can create custom decals from a customer’s images.

The company makes three types of decal: ceramic decals, for fired glazed finishes; glass decals for transparent or opaque glass surfaces; and ‘non-fire’ decals for use on any sealed surface (e.g. terracotta, woodwork).

6/2 Brand Drive, Thomastown, Victoria 3074
Tel. (1300) 132 771    (03) 9380 7722

Featured Festival of Glass Sponsor: Leura Park Estate
The Festival of Glass committee is very grateful to Leura Park Estate for being a major sponsor of the Festival’s 2018 Treasure Hunt (8 January to 18 February) and for co-hosting “Twilight Flames” (17 February).

Established in 1995, the 150 acre Leura Park Estate includes 40 acres planted with premium, cool climate varietal vines, from which grapes are predominantly hand-picked. In the hands of winemaker Darren Burke, they yield the Estate’s renowned Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay wines, as well as Sparkling Shiraz, Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay and Sparkling Blanc de Blanc.

Owners David and Lyndsay Sharpe have designed menus to complement their wines, including stone-based pizzas, seasonal grazing platters (ideal for groups), steak sandwiches and salt & pepper calamari served with a Greek salad. Also on offer is exclusively roasted coffee and an extensive range of teas.

Visitors to Leura Park Estate can relax on the sun drenched alfresco area or on the lawn under market umbrellas, while an open fire beckons on cooler days.

The Estate staff can assist people planning a private function, a party, or a special occasion such as a wedding or work function. For informal occasions, the Estate offers its ‘fabulous, fun, finger food functions’.

1400 Portarlington Rd., Curlewis Vic. 3222
(03) 5253 3180                       http://leuraparkestate.com.au/
Open: 10.30am – 5.00pm Sunday to Thursday and all public holidays; open daily in January. Live music on Sundays. Bookings recommended.

Thanks to the City of Greater Geelong and the Bendigo Bank, our Awards sponsors, our Treasure Hunt sponsors and other local ‘in kind’ supporters.

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