Monday, March 19, 2012

Q: Did Blenko use these methods?

Peter Cormack asked: Do you think Blenko ever used similar methods - especially the cutting of the 'muff' cylinder while still hot - for its 'antique' glass? You'll no doubt recall those pieces of glass I brought to Princeton, some of which had that characteristic 'hand-cut' edge. They came from Connick's studio, but did he get them from Lawrence Saint or from Blenko (if they started imitating Bryn Athyn's/Saint's methods)?

My reply: As far as I know Blenko was making 2 kinds of cylinders: 1 blown into a bare metal mold and another into one lined with wet cork. Each produced a different texture. I don’t believe these were cut while on the blow pipe. I think rather they were annealed as cylinders then cut, reheated and flattened – I am basing this judgment on examples of their glass which I used to be able to purchase ( in the 80’s & 90’s) through SA Bendheim in NY. But I can’t say for certain that they did not use the muff method at an earlier time.

Some years ago Dan Maher in MA showed me sheet glass that he had obtained when Connick Studios closed. The sheets also matched that produced by Saint’s & Bryn Athyn’s Glass works. It was identical to the size of your sheets and displayed similar tool marks. I have not found any evidence that Bryn Athyn Glassworks was offering any of its glass for sale to other studios. I strongly believe their glass was made exclusively for Bryn Athyn Cathedral & Pitcairn’s home, Glencairn. Not even other Swedenborgian churches have this glass. But before the Bryn Athyn Glassworks was built in 1922 Raymond Pitcairn was commissioning sheet glass from John Larson who had a studio in Glendale NY. It was Larson who eventually set up the Bryn Athyn Glassworks for Pitcairn and his associate David Smith stayed on as Bryn Athyn’s gaffer after Larson left the enterprise. However, Larson’s main production was decorative blown vessels and lampshades – not sheet glass. I got the impression Larson considered the production of sheet glass in the muff method to be a rather mundane skill which could be easily taught to a subordinate. Larson’s real contribution may have been his knowledge of color formulas including the striated copper red..

I wish I knew more about where Connick and his contemporaries were obtaining glass? Perhaps this would shed some light on these mysteries. There remain many intriguing connections.

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