What is it about seeing a Tiffany style lamp that brings awe-inspiring looks from those who see them? The beauty and elegance? The craftsmanship? The colors? Probably all of the above.
With its stained glass patterns of intricate design, Tiffany lamps are unlike any other lamp in the world. From the moment you see one you know what it is. In their basic function, Tiffany lamps provide light. Their beauty though seems to transform your light to an eye-catching focal point of the room.
Let’s take a moment to explore some of the aspects of Tiffany lamps.
What is a Tiffany Lamp?
In its simplest explanation, a Tiffany lamp is known best for its glass lamp shade of many colors and designs. Although Tiffany table and floor lamp bases sometimes have its own intricate designs, it is best known by the glass shades that adorn the light.
The Tiffany lamp name comes from its inventor, Louis Comfort Tiffany, who produced Tiffany lamps from the late 1880’s until 1930.
Tiffany made the lamps by soldering pieces of cut, colored glass that he had left over from stained glass windows he had made years earlier. He cut various types and colors of glass according to a pattern that he designed.
Once the glass pieces were cut, he cleaned each piece and applied copper foil to the edges. The pieces were then laid out to match the pattern design, Tiffany would then solder each piece together; thereby creating one solid piece from once was many individual pieces of glass. The copper foil helped bond the solder to each piece of glass, creating a lamp shade that consisted of a single, solid wire throughout. A final cleaning would bring out the vibrant colors of the shade.
A Brief History of Tiffany lamps and its Inventor
Louis Comfort Tiffany was the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, of Tiffany and Co. the jewelry store and fine merchandise. Instead of following in his father’s footsteps, Louis sought a different career in various arts. In the 1880s Tiffany began to design the first of the Tiffany Lamps. The first of the Tiffany Lamps were very geometric, using basic shapes such as squares, triangles and circles in their mosaic designs.
The lamps became more popular during the early 1900s and demand for them increased. Tiffany hired a staff of unmarried women workers who became known as the “Tiffany Girls”. The Tiffany Girls helped design and cut glass to produce the lamps. One such woman was Clara Driscoll, who eventually became the director and designer of many of Tiffany’s most popular designs. Some of her most popular designs were the Wisteria, Dragonfly, Peony, and the Daffodil.
The demand for Tiffany lamps deteriorated in the late 1920s and the company shut its doors in 1930. Louis Comfort Tiffany died in 1933.
Tiffany Lamp Designs
With the growing popularity of Tiffany lamps today, it has become very simple to find your desired style and design of Tiffany style lamp. Tiffany lamps come in almost all style. From table lamps, floor lamps, hanging lamps, sconces and pendants, there are so many styles to choose from. Let’s explore some of the major designs of Tiffany Lamps.
Geometric Tiffany lamps were designed using glass cut into basic shapes such as squares, triangles, diamonds, and rectangles and used only one or two colors.
The geometric designs included the Lotus Leaf, Acorn, Spider web, Parasol, Nautilus Seashell, Indian Basket and Turtleback designs. These designs are very symmetrical and were some of Tiffany’s first work. Although a symmetrical design may seem a little boring, Tiffany’s use of color and shapes made the lamps come alive.
Flowered Dome Designs
The flowered domes include many different colors in the shade. The domes are rounded, draping domes, unlike the typical cone shape of a typical shade. Designs include the Dragonfly, Daffodil, Peony, Bamboo, Oriental poppy, Apple Blossom, Poinsettia and so many more.
Similar to the flowered domes, the flowered cone lamps were symmetrical with the floral designs and were a bit more like a typical cone-shaped shade. Tiffany’s use of color, design, and shapes set his flowered cones far apart from any typical shade of the day. The Dragonfly, Oriental poppy, and the Peony designs were also made using the cone design. The Lily Pad, Grape, Water Lily and Arrowroot were exclusively made in the cone design.
The Wisteria design is one of Tiffany’s most popular designs. This design became quite popular because the finished lamp actually looks like a Wisteria tree. The lamp fixture resembles the trunk while the lamp shade looks like the blossoming limbs. Detail of branches and limbs hanging down were added to add great detail to the shade. The use of vibrant color and irregular edges draw a second or third look to see if it is indeed a lamp shade.
With their resurgence of popularity, it is very difficult to find an authentic Tiffany lamp. Some original Tiffany lamps have commanded prices in the millions of dollars for a single lamp.
If this is a bit out of your price range, there are many Tiffany-inspired or Tiffany style lamps on the market for fairly reasonable prices. Characterized by the stained glass shades and decorative bases, the Tiffany lamps give us a beautiful, artistic way to brighten our homes with colorful designs from years past. Lampe de chevet tactile