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Glass, both early and modern American, is now being shown at the Fogg Art Museum. A trip over there will be well worthwhile, as the glass is beautiful, and Sidney B. Waugh, a well-known sculptor, has designed some beautifully etched pieces.
The Eighteenth Century glass is just as interesting in its way and serves as a good contrast to the modern work. The old glass is mainly from the factories of Steigel and Wistarburg, two pioneers in the art of American glass blowing, who worked in the middle of the eighteenth century.
Steigel, a Bavarian, came here, set up a glass factory in Manheim, Pennsylvania, in 1765, and employed only glassblowers of German extraction. Caspar Wistar, from whom the Wistarburg glass takes it name, founded his factory in 1738 in Salem County, New Jersey.
Both these men used the same method of glass blowing, the method used by the early Egyptians, the Romans, and employed even today, in making all good glassware. The glass is made of silica, which is melted in a hot furnace. When it is molten, a hollow iron tube is dipped into it, a globule drawn out and then blown to the proper size. A mold is used to give it the desired shape or else sticks dipped into water may be used to press it into shape.
The enameled Steigel glass forms an interesting part of the old stuff. The designer realized the limitations of his medium and did not try to make the design anything more than decorative.
The Steuben Glass is excellent. The lines are good and the designing by Waugh, taking classical mythology as a subject, are well executed. His Zodiac Bowl is probably the most famous and has drawn the highest praise from all over the world. An unengraved piece, a huge brandy sniffing goblet, takes your breath away by its sweep and simplicity and the transparency of the glass.
If you have a few minutes, the Fogg will give you a good idea of the possibilities of glass designing.
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