A treasure trove
by Pam Crosland at the Apple Barn, Chichester
We all think of Tiffany lamps, brightly shining in a myriad of colours, but have we ever considered the reason why they are called Tiffany lamps? Well, let me tell you the story…
Louis Comfort Tiffany was born 18th February 1848 in New York City, USA to Charles Lewis Tiffany and Harriet Olivia Young. His school years included attendance at two military academies - one in Pennsylvania and the other in New Jersey.
However, it was his creative mind that lured him into the world of painting. His studies at the National Academy of design in New York City at the age of 18 meant that he came into contact with Leon-Adolphe-August-Belly whose landscape paintings greatly inspired him.
So it was that he became a painter. It was in the year of 1875 that Tiffany turned his attention to glassmaking and thus worked at several glass houses in Brooklyn to gain knowledge of the trade.
Later, when he opened his own glass factory in Corona, New York, he pledged that he would improve the quality and designs of contemporary glass. With his drive and his father’s input, his business became very successful and flourished.
Possibly one of his greatest accolades was to be commissioned by President Chesterman Arthur in 1882 to re-decorate the White House, as he did not want to take office until it was done. Louis refurbished many of the State rooms using the most impressive decorative patterns including Tiffany glass to windows and gaslight fixtures.
At the beginning of his career,Tiffany used inexpensive jelly jars and bottles but due to their impurities he began to make his own glass using opalescent glass in a variety of colours and textures thus creating a unique style of stained glass. He experimented using a copper foil technique edging each piece of cut glass with this and then soldering them together to create windows and lamps.
It was in 1889 that Tiffany built a new factory named the Stourbridge Glass Company, later to be called Tiffany Glass Furnaces, in Corona, Queens, New York.
He employed an Englishman, Arthur J. Nash, to oversee his company which at one point had in excess of 300 artisans. His trademark was Favrile glass which in French meant ‘handmade’. Clara Driscoll led a team of women designers who were nicknamed The Tiffany Girls who designed many of his floral patterns, still seen on his famous lamps today.
Specialising in collecting and restoring timeless furniture and furnishing pieces, The Apple Barn, located in West Sussex, is a paradise for those who love vintage, pre-loved and second hand furniture.