Object of the Week: Balloon I, Franz Xaver Holler, Zwiesel, Germany, 1994. 99.3.97.
The fine engraved lines on this impossibly-thin sculpture almost resemble frost on a sheet of ice. “Balloon I” is made from a large bubble that has been blown out almost to the point of collapse. After cooling, Höller carefully cut away the top section and covered the walls of the sphere with engraving inspired by natural patterns found in the winter landscape.
Object of the Week: Boxed Set of Christmas Ornaments, Corning Glass Works, Corning, New York, United States, 1950-1959. Gift of Jane E. Preston. 2009.4.79.
Corning, New York is famous for glass innovation at the intersection of art, science, and industry. The same ribbon machine Corning Glass Works invented to create hundreds of light bulbs a minute was fitted with different molds used to make lustrous Christmas ornaments. Will you be using any Corning Glass Works ornaments in your decorations this season?
Object of the Week: Athléte et feuillages (Athlete and foliage), Rene Lalique (designer), Jean Esvelin (master engraver), Lalique et Cie (manufacturer), Paris, France, 1932. Gift of Benjamin D. Bernstein. 55.3.165.
This may be the largest single piece of Lalique glass in existence. It was one of a set of Art Deco-style glass panels commissioned for the lobby of Wanamaker’s Department Store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The luscious bronze-colored leaves are evocative of the beauty of fall.
Object of the Week: Fruit Basket, Boston & Sandwich Glass Company, Sandwich, Massachusetts, United States, 1845–1860. 2004.4.36.
Openwork sides are rare in pressed glass since the form is difficult to press and then remove from the mold without damage. The form’s open sides enhance its function as a fruit basket—allowing air to circulate around the fruit, keeping it fresh.
Object of the Week: Black Water Spirit, Preston Singletary, Seattle, Washington, United States, 2006. 2010.4.56.
Descended from a Tlingit clan of Southeastern Alaska, Preston Singletary studies ancient designs made in traditional materials, such as cedar, shell, and bone, and he recreates them in a modern, nontraditional medium: glass.
Object of the Week: Vase with Spider Web Pattern, Samuel Hawkes (designer), T. G. Hawkes & Company, Corning, New York, United States, 1939-1940. 98.4.9.
What better way to celebrate Halloween than with this vase with spider web pattern! The deeply cut pattern along the top of the vessel brilliantly demonstrates the optical quality of the glass while the finely engraved lines below perfectly depict the delicate threads of the spider web. See more beautifully cut and engraved locally-made glass in the Crystal City Gallery.
Object of the Week: Fragment with Fish and Gourd Vine, Roman Empire, 300-399. 66.1.205.
The seven gourds and the fish on this fragment of glass are made of a gold leaf roundel applied to the underside of colorless glass. Then, a layer of translucent blue glass was added to the top.
Object of the Week: Set (Garniture) of Five Vases, La Manufacture de Cristaux du Creusot, probably Burgundy, France, 1786–1794. 2017.3.8 A-E.
Displaying a vase on a mantelpiece or table is so commonplace today that it seems like an obvious household decoration. The ornamental vase only began to make an appearance in European domestic interiors only in the early 17th century, and it was primarily associated with the display of porcelain imported from China. Complete garnitures of glass from the period are extremely rare.
Object of the Week: Optical Model of the Eye, probably France, 1800-1899. 2004.3.40.
The French philosopher René Descartes suggested in 1637 that in order to understand the optical properties of the eye, one should study the eyeball of a recently deceased man or that of a freshly killed large animal. Beginning in the late 17th century, optical models provided a more convenient alternative. The lens of the model projects an inverted and reversed image onto a matted screen on the back. Two lenses can be placed in front of the eye to demonstrate the corrective lenses for near- and farsightedness.
Object of the Week: Smallpox Virus and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), Luke Jerram (artist), Brian Jones and Norman Veitch (assistants), Bristol, England, United Kingdom, 2010. 25th Rakow Commission. 2010.2.46.
These two sculptures are part of Luke Jerram’s “Glass Microbiology” project, an exploration of the tension between the glass’s beauty, the viruses’ deadliness, and the global impact of these diseases. “The Smallpox Virus celebrates the 30th anniversary of the global eradication of this deadly disease,” Jerram says. “And the HIV represents humanity’s worldwide struggle.”