The Tiffany Connection
Louis Comfort Tiffany - February 18, 1848 to January 17, 1933
Louis Comfort Tiffany became interested in glassmaking in 1875 and worked at several glasshouses in Brooklyn until 1878 after which he formed an interior design house - Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists. In 1881, Mr. Tiffany decorated the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT and in 1882 President Chester Alan Arthur commissioned him to redo the East Room, Blue Room, Red Room, State Dining Room and the Entrance Hall of the White House. Tiffany later chose to focus on glassmaking and in 1902 this company became known as the Tiffany Studios.
Tiffany was odd in that he liked imperfections in the glass, which up to this point had been completely transparent in appearance and now know as cathedral glass. When Tiffany was unable to convince glass makers to leave impurities in their glass he began making his own glass. Tiffany used opalescent glass in a variety of colors and textures to create a unique style of stained glass. This is in contrast to the method of painting in enamels or glass paint on colorless glass that had been the dominate method of creating stained glass for hundreds of years in Europe. The use of colored glass itself to create stained glass pictures was motivated in part by the ideology of the Arts and Crafts movement lead by William Morris from England.
The first Tiffany commercially produced lamps date from around 1895. Tiffany Studios produced mainly glass windows and lamps with some additional interior decorations. At it’s peak Tiffany Studios employed more than 300 artists. In 1900, Mr. Tiffany won a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris with his stained glass windows The Four Seasons and continued with receive awards at international fairs through out America and around the world.
Kokomo Opalescent Glass, then known as The Opalescent Glass Works, specialized in this incredible new American style of glass – opalescent. Our long history of award winning glass began with the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle where we received our own gold medal. Even as Tiffany’s own glass factory in Corona, NY was open he purchased glass form Kokomo Opalescent Glass. Many stained glass innovations are attributed to Mr. Tiffany and can still be found in Kokomo Opalescent Glass today such as our use of strong color, a huge variety of textures that include ripple glass, mottled glass (glass with areas of opaque and translucent spots of color), and marbleized (two or more opaque colors swirled together). Tiffany also used a considerable amount of jewels in his productions and Kokomo Opalescent Glass continues to produce old favorites and develop new pieces.
Mr. Tiffany’s furnaces ceased operations in the early 1930’s and he passed away in 1933. The plethora of work from Tiffany Studio’s that still survives today means that restoration work on many pieces are always ongoing. Kokomo Opalescent Glass continues to be the main source of glass for much of this work. We still produce nearly all of the same colors that Mr. Tiffany utilized in his work and have developed new colors and textures that resemble glass produced in his furnaces during that time period. Over the years we have been called upon to create cast pieces to resemble those that Mr. Tiffany used.