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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » October 22, 2008
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Lampmaker, Lampmaker, Make Me a Lamp
October 22, 2008   
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Louis Comfort Tiffany, the son of a famous jeweler and a commercial artist whose work symbolized American Art Nouveau, thought that the progress of civilization and mass production resulted in ugliness. He worshipped beauty and created beautiful objects for practical use in accordance with Art Nouveau principles.

Tiffany was fascinated above all by glass and its relation with light. He worked mainly in stained glass and designed everyday glass objects. What for Tiffany was the epitome of beauty was not, however, to be found in the homes of average Americans because it was too expensive, especially Tiffany's stained glass.

The first stained glass lamps appeared on the market in 1889 and to this day are known as Tiffany lamps. The lamps were designed to be affordable to a wide spectrum of society and the beautiful, warm light emanating from them was designed to brighten the uniform interiors of the day. Tiffany lamps have outlived their founder and remain hugely popular to this day.

Contemporary stained-glass lamp makers use the same techniques and special glass pioneered by Tiffany. The glass is double-layered, opaque and is characterized by smudges, air bubbles and sand grains. The edges of each piece of glass are bound in copper foil and then soldered together to create the lampshade.

Lamps made today are often designed in the style of Tiffany and Art Nouveau and depict flowers, birds, dragonflies and geometric designs, says Warsaw lamp maker Edward Magdziarz. His lamps were used in a recent Alfons Mucha exhibition at the National Museum in Warsaw and are on permanent display in the Art Nouveau Museum in Płock 120 km northwest of Warsaw.

Where can you purchase a Tiffany lamp? Lighting shops sell them but it is best to go directly to the lamp maker. The choice is bigger and it is possible to order a custom-made lamp. When buying a lamp from a store it is wise to check its quality. The soldering should be flat. Genuine Tiffany glass is only made in Portland, Oregon, in the United States, says Magdziarz. He adds that European glassworks also produce stained glass but it is transparent.

Prices depend on a lamp's size and the number of pieces of stained glass used. Tiffany's most famous lamp, the Wisteria, was made up of more than 1,000 pieces. Modern Tiffany lamps can have as many as several thousand pieces. On average prices start at a few hundred zlotys and can go up to several thousand zlotys.

When choosing a Tiffany lamp it is important to take into consideration the interior decor of the room in which it will be placed. An Art Deco-style lamp may look good in a modern interior, but it decidedly looks better placed within a more traditional interior.

M.B.


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