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Clutha And Cluthra GlassAuthor: Albert Christian Revi
( Article orginally published February 1963 )
SHORTLY before the turn of the century, about 1895, James Couper & Sons of Glasgow, Scotland, produced a glassware which they marketed under the trade name "Clutha." The name was derived from an old Scotch word meaning "cloudy."
To produce Clutha glassware, a worker took up a light gather of pale ruby or pale yellow colored glass and rolled it over a marver lightly sprinkled with bits of colored glass and mica flakes. The gather was reheated at the glory-hole and blown and tooled into the finished product. Couper & Sons' Clutha glassware is full of character and quaintness, with little specks of color, and bubbles, and a general contour which tends to render the shape visible. Couper & Sons employed the wellknown designer Christopher Dresser to design several of the forms in which their Clutha glass was to be made. These designs are identified by the initials "C.D." which are incorporated with the manufacturers' mark for their C'lutha glass. (See illustration.) Most of Dresser's designs were registered at the Patent Office in London.
Another designer, George Walton of Glasgow, also produced several of the designs for Clutha glassware, and his initials will probably be found on pieces of this ware in connection with the maker's mark and the name "Clutha" etched lightly in the base of the article. About 1925, the Steuben Glass Works, under the direction of their master craftsman, Fred Carder, produced a very similar ware which Mr. Carder named "Cluthra."
Mr. Carder produced Steuben's Cluthra glassware in this way: A lump of crystal glass was taken up on a blowing iron and rolled across a marver that had been sprinkled with powdered glass of any desired color.
The parison was reheated at the glory-hole and dipped into a pot of fluid crystal or colored glass thereby coating the parison completely. The article was blown to size and shaped with tools in the usual way. Handles or other kinds of decoration were added before placing it in the annealing oven. Carder's Cluthra, or "cloudy glass", as he sometimes called it, has the characteristic bubbly texture within the body of the glass with an allover mottled colored ground that lends itself well to the simple shapes which he used for this ware. Most of Steuben's Cluthra pieces are marked with the firm's name and trademarka fleur-de-lis - lightly etched somewhere on the article.
We have found many pieces of Kimball and Durand's Clutha glass usually in a bubbly yellow, orange, and pink color, but the shapes have left a great deal to be desired. Some of their pieces are marked with the letter "K" and, occasionally, a number or series of numbers which designated a particular design.
CLUTHA, made by James Couper & Sons, Glasgow, Scotland: Top left, two vases of green bubbled and streaked Clutha glass, designed by Christopher Dresser, ca. 1888; hts. 5" and 3". Top right, vase and bowl of green bubbled and color streaked glass, bowl also has aventurine patches through the glass, designed by George Walton, ca. 1896; hts. 5 1/2" and 3". All from Victoria & Albert Museum, London.