Magnifying candlepower

Let there be light

Glass has always had a fascination for me. When I was young there was a craze for collecting glass animals, cheap enough to be bought with pocket money, and usually sporting elongated necks, corkscrew tails, floppy ears and black beady eyes. Collections of them adorned many a young girl’s bedroom, but they were prone to breaking so I suspect few survived beyond the fad following hard on its heels.

Whilst I was quite young one of my grandmothers died, and for some reason, perhaps because such things, in the new era of Danish sleek and plain, were consider old fashioned, I fell heir to some beautiful Victorian cut crystal perfume and smelling salt bottles with silver collars and elegant shapes and stoppers. I was mesmerized. Hooked. That was the start of a collection that grew with the years.

Since then, various other perfume bottles and pieces of art glass have been added, or just vases or knickknacks that have appealed. I even have some pendants made from colourful blobs of Murano glass. Some time ago when in Malta we visited a glass factory making items from recycled Coke bottles. I bought a small dish, vaguely greenish with white splotches, which I still have. A couple of years ago I watched in rapt fascination while a local master glassmaker made a millefiore paper weight. The process seemed effortless, though I knew he followed traditional methods and many years of skill went into its manufacture.

A light which has no glass.

A light which has no glass. The base is Majolica.

So I was pleased when Bordeaux came up trumps with a new angle on glass for me to appreciate – this time in the form of chandeliers, some traditional, others more quirky. Let me share them with you.

Elegant wall sconce.

Elegant wall sconce.

Using glass around candles was, I assume, a way of magnifying the light of one or a number of small flames. Glass caught the light, magnified it, added sparkle, and reflected it around. So, if you could afford it, you filled your home with lights dripping glass — chandeliers, wall sconces, candelabra, even lights attached to pianos.

I suppose the glass droplet 'curtain' around this light may have protected the original candle version from daughts and therefore the danger of them being blown out.

I suppose the glass droplet ‘curtain’ around this light may have protected the original candle version from daughts and therefore the danger of them being blown out.

This may be vaseline glass - its form certainly stopped me in my tracks. In fact, I have two vaseline glass 'leaves' from a similar chandelier but had never seen a complete light fitting.

This may be vaseline glass – its form certainly stopped me in my tracks. In fact, I have two vaseline glass ‘leaves’ from a similar chandelier but had never seen a complete light fitting.

This one is quite quirky, with coloured glass flowers

This one is quite quirky, made of twisted glass with coloured glass flowers

More traditional, but quite stunning, draped in glass.

More traditional, but quite stunning, draped in glass.

Lots of cut glass to reflect light with a mirror behind to add to its impact.

Lots of cut glass to reflect light with a mirror behind to add to its impact.

Hall lantern where, in a space where good light was less necessary, the glass  is probably designed to protect the flames from blowing out.

Hall lantern where, in a space where good light was less necessary, the glass is probably designed to protect the flames from blowing out.

A lantern of a different type and on a different scale, its glass, in the form of lenses, was used to magnify the output of lighthouses. Originally lit by wood pyres or burning coal, candles, then new developments in oil lamps meant they became the source of illumination for lighthouses to beam out over the seas warning of dangers. This lamp, in the National Museum of Scotland main hall, as far as I remember, came from one of the many lights around the Scottish shores.

Light from a lighthouse — somewhat larger than the chandeliers, but again using a light source and glass.

Light from a lighthouse — somewhat larger than the chandeliers, but again using a light source and glass.

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About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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8 Responses to Magnifying candlepower

  1. Walter says:

    Wonders made with glass. This is an excellent post. What is my favorite? It is difficult to decide, but I choose the Lighthouse lamp.

    • Yes, Walter, everything else is decorative. Lighthouses had a very practical use, saving lives. Scotland has a long and treacherous coastline with thousands of islands. Lighthouses must have kept many ships off their shores – though we also had people called wreckers who used lights to confuse boats and make them run aground. Then they would steal the cargos. There are lots of stories of caves that are thought to have hidden cargos from boats lured ashore.

      • Walter says:

        Oh, wreckers! ____ Yes, I remember some old films with characters who did that. It made me remember movies and books of novels and stories about sailors, pirates and all that wonderful world of maritime legends.
        Greeting.

  2. Love that the word wreckers brought back so many memories for you. Funny how certain words can do that. Greetings to you too, Walter.

  3. lenathehyena says:

    The vaseline glass chandelier is very beautiful and graceful. Glass fashions have changed dramatically over the last few decades. Must admit I didn’t care for some browish Germanic-looking shades that used to be fairly common but think I might now be old enough to appreciate them! There’s a small business in Tain that produces some interesting contemporary glass objects, think it is called Glasstorm or was, it may no longer exist and I have been tempted with some of their output.
    Have you been to the glass room, not what it’s called at the Wurzburg Residenz? Magnificent. Check it out on Google images.

  4. We stay in an old church and have deep window cills where I keep lots of glass, old and modern mixed together. Even in winter the light through it, and the colours it brings to life, cheers me.

    Würzburg Residenz – that is some place. Makes most other palaces I’ve seen pale by comparison. Haven’t been but I’ll keep it in mind. Though it’s so OTT that the plain and homely of what we have here almost becomes more appealing as it is more of a reflection of how people actually lived. And that fascinates me.

  5. Chris says:

    I love glass too. Had to choose at one point because the collection threatened to take over; now I only keep blue items, but I still have some medicine bottles and several old inkwell replicas in different colours. Though replicas, they’re almost old enough to be called antiques.

  6. I have a window sill full of blue glass as well as other bits scattered around. Wonder why blue glass is so appealing? I know what you mean by your collection threatening to take over. I called a halt (more or less) some time ago, but luckily our house has very deep window sills, ideal for displaying it as the light and sun shines through the pieces and creates rainbows of colours even on dismal days. So great for raising the spirits. I don’r really care how old or new pieces are as long as I like them, and some of mine have stories attached reminding me of trips to Sweden, or to antique fairs or sales. So lovely to look at plus memories – an intoxicating combination.

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