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Glass From Finland

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Karhula glass is a product of the Karhula Company, Karhula, Finland. Established in 1888 by William Ruth, they were soon making worthwhile glass and shortly after the turn of the century their hand-cut lead crystal was competing in world markets-particularly in England. Purity and exceptional clarity-due in part to use of wood as furnace fuel have always characterized Karhula glass.

Largely dependent upon export outlets, Karhula lines and designs have veered sanely with trade demands. They have, however, retained the indigenous charm of nationality and escaped the label of eclectic art, by shrewdly blending the modern with their own sound basic ideas.

Outstanding in modern Karhula, are the creations of the artists Goran Hongell, Richard Jungell, Y. Rosvall, Mrs. Gunnel Nyman-Gustaf sson, Frans Rantanen, and Baron Emil Cedercreutz, the Finnish sculptor: usually their pieces are signed. Rather disposed to flowing curves and animate subjects, Hongell manages some truly rhythmic compositions based on this particular style. Unspecious aesthetic balance marks Hongell designs. Harmony of shape and lines with the purpose of the piece, rather than the solution of equations of art, endow his glass with appealing beauty.

Equally attractive but vastly dissimilar is the work of Jungell. His awareness of the pure transparency of Karhula glass has led him into designs which serve to heighten that quality; recurring angles, straight lines and large triangular areas conspire to glorify the glass without overattention to angularity. Niceties of geometry appearing along edges, where angular exteriors make the transition to circular inner surfaces, also tend to show off the glass rather than the cutter's ability.

To the creative genius of Mrs. Gunnel Nyman-Gustaf sson, Karhula is indebted for some splendid designs, distinctive and inspiring in their modernity. In both molded and engraved designs, she aims at broad effects which are accomplished with a minimum of lines-suggestive lines which subtly vary interpretation and heighten aesthetic values. One of her designs, an irregular shaped shallow bowl with engraved fish, clearly demonstrates her sure touch and facility in glass design.

Baron Cedercreutz approaches glass as a sculptor, subordinating the glass to his ideas and technique; it is another medium of expression to him, rather than a product to be decorated or molded by him. Naturally some of his most interesting creations are of the solid decorative type-bold lined and grotesque animal designs especially.

Y.Rosvall, the Finnish artist, inclines to the modern in his glass designs. Often he combines with bold lines and slashing strokes some quaint shape which renders the whole most ingenuous; stylized fish, waves and water are among his choice decorative subjects.

At present Mr. Alvar Aalto, the well known Finnish architect, is also working with Karhula.

Interesting unsigned Karhula pieces include vodka sets, lamp bases and utility bowls and vases, appearing in various colors and textures ranging from crystal to highly colored bubble glass, crackle glass and many others of individual charm.

The Osakeyhtio Riihimaki firm was established in 1910 at Suomi, Finland.

Distinctive features of this glass are its heavy crystal metal, massive shapes, and depth of cutting. When struck, a full-toned ring reveals the high quality of the beautifully clear lead crystal. Although prismatic effects predominate in the extensive wheel cutting, many novel naturalistic lines and designs occur throughout the ware; and the decorative schemes are remarkably compatible with the proportions of the pieces. Recent American demand for Finnish glass, has perhaps led Riihimaki designers somewhat away from their older glyptic styles which formerly found especial favor in England.

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