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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Lacy Ware Glass



As in the case of Blown Three-mold, the first pressed glass was made to compete with or imitate cut glass. Early patterns followed closely the typical designs of cut ware, but very soon a new characteristic appeared. This was the fine stippling which covered the backgrounds, resulting in lovely delicate patterns. It was given the name "lacy" and was a style entirely different from anything in cut ware. Whether or not Jarves obtained the idea from the French or vice versa is not known. By the 1830s the glassworker although still important for making free-blown ware, was secondary to the designer and moldmaker in the pressed-glass departments.

The lead formula used for lacy ware gave the intricate patterns, brilliance and the pieces a weight not found in modern reproductions. Many articles, however, show defects in manufacturing. Sometimes the batch was poorly mixed with the result that bits of unfused sand or bubbles of air appear in the glass. Often the unpatterned surface is uneven and rarely is it as smooth to the touch as in blown glass. Irregularities occurred when the temperature of the glass or of the mold was not right, the plunger was out of alignment, or the mold skidded. Since it takes considerable skill for a glassworker to judge the amount of hot metal to drop into a mold, the edges of the early dishes were often of uneven thickness. Among the improvements patented was a ring to prevent the escape of glass along the rim. In piece molds, glass was squeezed out along the seams by the pressure from the mold. It formed fins which were sharp and hairlike instead of rounded as in blown ware. These fins could not be removed from lacy glass without affecting the pattern. Later designs such as Ashburton and Thumbprint were adaptable to firepolishing, which was in general use about 1840. Gradually, open and shut molds were improved and eventually the complete article was made in one operation. Nevertheless, throughout the nineteenth century the glass press was manipulated by hand and many articles were made by the combined processes of pressing and blowing.

It is hard to find a good piece of Lacy glass today, although there still are some out there...



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