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Steuben Bubbly Glass


A Popular Style Produced in the 1920s and '30s
Steuben Bubbly Glassware with Green Threading

Steuben Bubbly Glassware with Green Threading (Click on Photo Above to See Larger Image)

- Photo Courtesy of Morphy Auctions
While certainly not the only manufacturer to make this type of glass, Steuben's wares of this sort certainly have their fans in collecting circles. Frederick Carder, co-founder of Steuben Glass Works, developed this "air trap" style of glass known as Bubbly in the 1920s and it was made by the firm into the 1930s. He may have been inspired by his prior work with Emile Gallé, who also artfully used air bubbles to decorate glass.

The first pieces of Steuben's Bubbly were made using spiked molds. "When molten glass was rolled over the slab, the spikes left marks in the hot glass. A second applied layer of glass locked in the air, so that the controlled designs could be achieved," according to The Collector’s Encyclopedia of American Art Glass by John A. Shuman III (now out of print but available through online booksellers.) The result was a fairly consistent pattern of bubbles throughout the glass.

Random air bubbles in some Bubbly pieces were created by introducing a willow branch into the glass while hot and removing it immediately. Gasses released from the green wood would enable the glass artisans to work the bubbles. This method also eliminated green and pink tinges that might occur in colorless glass, according to Shuman.

All the objects commonly made by Steuben were fashioned of this type of glass, including vases, bowls, perfume bottles, and candlesticks. Colors used were clear, Antique Green, Bristol Yellow, Wisteria, Topaz, French Blue, and Pomona Green. Some pieces also had a threading design added for interest. The threading could be in the same color as the base piece, or in a contrasting color like the green threading on clear glass shown above (click on the photo for a larger view).

Not all Bubbly pieces are found marked. Some have etched markings on the bottoms, while others have paper labels still attached. Some of those have the pattern name written in the center of the sticker.

About the Pieces Shown Above

This lot of Steuben Bubbly pieces included matching candlesticks, and two different vase styles. Two of the pieces were etched with Steuben marks on their bases. All four pieces have contrasting threading décor in green. The lot sold for $287.50 (not including buyer’s premium) at Morphy Auctions in December, 2010. Click on the photo to see a larger image.

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