Indulge Your Inner Flapper

09/10/18

Indulge Your Inner Flapper: 1920s Art Deco Glass

We are always excited and amazed when we discover a cache of genuine 1920s Art Deco glass jewels in our searches! As these little glass gems edge closer to 100 years old, they are becoming quite rare. Our new line includes 14 pieces with 1920s glass stones. Almost all are hand-pressed Czechoslovakian doublets in “real gemstone” colors such as jade, carnelian, chalcedony, topaz, and lapis. The designs are pure Art Deco, with intricate patterns of “marcasites” that are actually silver luster applied to the design. (Genuine marcasites are tiny bits of faceted pyrite, or fools gold.)

Examples of 1920s/1930s Czech glass necklaces and buckles, the middle and far right showing examples of lustered “marcasite” embellishment. The glass jewels we use were made for pieces such as this. About once a year, we discover a new color or shape of this glass in our searches.

You may remember from our earlier blogs (Jablonec Part 1 and Jablonec Part 2), that glass pressing (as opposed to molding or blowing) was invented in Northern Bohemia in 1732, when a process of hand pressing buttons was developed. Long tongs with hand-carved iron molds at the end were used to press heated glass rods to create one button at a time. One hundred years later, in the mid-19th century, the Bohemian glass makers had perfected the art of carving their iron molds so that highly detailed buttons and glass ornaments could be produced. Our Art Deco pieces, with their bold linear shapes and faceted “marcasites,” required great skill to carve in iron.

Early 20th century glass pressing house and 1920s or ‘30s button molds.

To the onlooker, the process of hand pressing glass seems quick and simple:  heat the glass rod in the furnace, open the tongs, and squeeze. However, the craft is brimming with hidden obstacles, which it took generations of Czech glass pressers to master. The glass must be heated to a precise temperature:  if it is too hot, the designs will sink as they cool; not hot enough, and the pieces will be too thick. The mold must also be the perfect temperature. If it is too cold, the surface of the glass will develop minute cracks. If the mold is too hot, the glass will fuse with the metal and not want to release.

Sample cards of pressed Art Deco glass stones from the Fried Freres company of Gablonz (Jablonec) from the late 1920s. Photos from “Baubles, Buttons, ad Beads:  The Heritage of Bohemia” by Sibylle Jargstorf.

Here are our pieces made with these glorious bits of glass history. We hope that you’ll sample a few, and wear them with the moxie of those “Bright Young Things” who drank champagne and danced the Charleston til dawn in the Roaring Twenties.

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