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The History of Glass V10 | European Glass Designers of the 20th Century

European Glass Designers of the 20th Century

By Dr Jessamy Kelly, glass artist and educator

In this month’s blog post we will explore a series of renowned European glass designers, architects and artists who worked with the glass industry from the 1920s onwards.

Figure 1 Savoy Vase, Alvar Aalto, manufactured by the Ittala Glassworks, Finland. Designed 1936. Collection of the Corning Museum of Glass (97.3.62).

We will examine the work of Simon Gate and Edward Hald from the Orrefors Glass Factory in Sweden; Alvar Aalto, Timo Sarpaneva, Tapio Wirkkala from the Ittala Glassworks in Finland, Kaj Franck and Gunnel Nyman at the Nuutajärvi Glassworks, in Finland and Pavel Hlava, Rene Roubicek and Jan Kotik from the Borske Sklo Glassworks, in the Czech Republic.

From the 1920’s onwards, many Scandinavian glass manufacturers created their own, unique design language and style by integrating artists, architects and designers into their factories. This approach helped the development of a new technical approach to glass making, which was focused on practical design thinking that linked progressive artistic experimentation directly with the economics of the glass industry. These early artistic collaborations with industry can be seen an early precursor of the studio glass movement.  Of particular interest in Sweden, was the work of Simon Gate and Edward Hald at the Orrefors Glass Factory.

In 1916, Simon Gate, was recruited by Orrefors as a glass designer, he developed a range of techniques including Graal, the glass is made in two steps, firstly the blank is made and the design cut through, then the glass is reheated and encapsulated in clear glass to suspend the first layer in glass. He also developed cutting and engraving techniques cutting away the surface of the glass to create intricate patterns such as the beautiful decanter (see figure 2). A year later, the painter Edward Hald joined Orrefors, his approach was more contemporary and modernist in style, his ‘Fish-Graal’ glass which has fish swimming through pond weed was one of his most famous designs (see figure 3).

Many European glass factories followed suite integrating designers and artists into the glass industry. At the Ittala Glassworks in Finland the renowned architect Alvar Aalto created the Savoy vase which became a Finnish design classic and symbol of Scandinavian Modernism (see figure 1). Other outstanding examples include the work of Timo Sarpaneva, of particular note was his orchid vase, usually working in clear glass he celebrated the sculptural qualities of free formed glass. For this piece he used a steam stick, which he used to pierce the molten glass letting the steam blow out a small bubble of air into the glass (see figure 4). Tapio Wirkkala was another prominent designer at Iittala, his work was often inspired by nature and contributed to the style of organic modernism, his Chanterelle vase represents this approach (see figure 5). 

Equally, the work of Gunnel Nyman and Kaj Franck at the Nuutajärvi Glassworks was raising much interest, Nyman’s Serpentine Vase is minimal in its styling, combining clear crystal organic forms with often fluid trails of coloured glass or trapped bubbles in the glass (see figure 6). 

In Eastern Europe at this time, Pavel Hlava, Jan Kotik and Rene Roubicek worked extensively at a range of glass factories including the Borske Sklo Glassworks, in Czechoslovakia. Czech glass was celebrated throughout Europe, and became renowned for its originality. Pavel Hlava’s developed his style from functional glassware to more sculptural modernist forms, such as the single bloom vase (see figure 7).

René Roubícek spontaneous sculptural style in glass was widely celebrated, his quirky sculptural forms in blown glass challenged preconceptions of glass as a purely functional medium (see figure 8). In 1948, the Communist Party gained control of Czechoslovakia, many artists were closely scrutinised by the regime and were not allowed to create abstract art. However, glass was overlooked as functional, many glass artists worked more freely as it was not considered to be a politically subversive medium.

Many of the designers and artists discussed today were practicing within the confines of a glass factory; it was not until the 1960’s with the advent of the studio glass movement, which led new discussions in glass making away from the factory, creating a new generation of studio glass makers. In our next series of blog posts we will introduce the studio glass movement and explore its prominence as it spread internationally throughout the US, Europe and East Asia.

Below, Glass (Dutch: Glas) is a 1958 Dutch short documentary film by director and producer Bert Haanstra. The film won the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject in 1959. The entire film is about the glass bottle industry.

This is the final instalment of The History of Glass series. Thank you for following it. We hope it has been as interesting as it has been informative and allowed you to understand the history of the material that is part of everything we do at Cumbria Crystal.

To read the entire series, visit here.

By Dr Jessamy Kelly

Jessamy Kelly is a glass artist and educator based in Edinburgh, she has worked as a freelance glass designer for Cumbria Crystal since 2016. She is the designer of the Loop and Palm collections.

A big thank you to Jessamy for sharing her knowledge of this subject with us all.

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The History of Glass V9 | 20th Century Factory Art Glass

20th Century Factory Art Glass

By Dr Jessamy Kelly, glass artist and educator

In this month’s blog post we will explore a range of Factory Art Glass from the 20th century, including a range of Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces from Henri Cros, Maurice Marinot & Rene Lalique.

Figure 1 Henri Cros, 1886, Plaque with female figure Pâte de verre, Manufacture de Sèvres H13.5cm Collection of the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY, gift of The Steinberg Foundation (96.3.23)

The influence of chemistry and alchemy on the development of glass and ceramic production established the foundation for the new technologies that we know today. Glass truly became an independent artistic process in the form of pate de verre (a variation on an ancient Egyptian technique called faience).

This technique remained unknown for many years until French ceramicists revived it in the 19th century; among the first to rediscover it was Henri Cros working at his studio at the Sevres Porcelain Manufactory (see Figure 1).

Other ceramicists inspired by this material research were Francoise Decorchemont, George Despret, Albert Louis Dammouse, Almeric Walter and Argy Rousseau. Art Nouveau was the first movement to integrate glass artists into industry. The Art Nouveau style influenced artists to view glass as a material suitable for expression, with its organic shapes and rich, iridescent colours. This movement recognised the potential of glass as art and pioneered the importance of originality through the use of artistic creativity and innovation.  The Art Nouveau style influenced much of the European decorative arts from the 1880’s until the outbreak of the First World War. The Paris exhibition of 1900 marked the worldwide recognition of Art Nouveau.

Out of Art Nouveau styling the international term ‘Art Deco’ developed, deriving its name from the 1925 Paris Exhibition, ‘L’Exposition Des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes’. The influence of thick, experimental glass made by Maurice Marinot and Henri Navarre led to a move away from surface decoration towards the idea of creating in ‘the spirit of the material’. Their glass was viewed as the founding initiative of the Art Deco style in glass. Marinot’s acid cut vases embodied this new aesthetic style. Extremely deep etching of the glass goes far beyond the realm of surface decoration, bringing out the raw spirit of the glass (see Figure 2).

Figure 4 Rene Lalique, 1925, Spirit of the Wind, car mascot, V&A.

A revival of the art of glass engraving was initiated by Ludwig Lobmeyr, the owner of the renowned Viennese glass René Lalique became a driving force behind the Art Deco movement having previously worked with jewellery in the Art Nouveau style. In the 1920s he moved into glass, creating exquisite vases using techniques such as lost wax[1] casting, or press moulding[2]. He created streamlined forms, with deep and intricate patterns; his Bacchantes vases (see Figure 3) are one of his best-known pieces, created in an opalescent glass with a blue tinge to it. The Spirit of the Wind car mascot (see Figure 4), designed in 1925, is another outstanding example of his work. The design shows the figures long hair blowing in the wind, symbolising the power and speed of the modern luxury cars of the time.

[1] “lost wax” is when a model of the design is carved in wax, which is then covered with a plaster mould and the wax is melted out leaving a cavity for glass to be cast into. The mould is destroyed after use, so each piece is unique.

[2] “Press moulded” is when the design is carved into a metal mould and then glass is pressed into the mould, it can be used to make a run of identical pieces.

In next month’s blog post we will explore a range of Factory art glass from the 20th century, a range of European glass designers and artists who worked with industry from the 1920s onwards. Including Simon Gate and Edward Hald from In next month’s blog post we will explore a series of European glass designers and artists who worked with industry from the 1920s onwards. Simon Gate and Edward Hald from the Orrefors Glass Factory in Sweden; Kaj Franck, Timo Sarpaneva, and Tapio Wirkkala from the Ittala Glassworks in Finland and Pavel Hlava, Jan Kotik, Adolf Matura and Rene Roubicek from the Borske Sklo Glassworks, in the Czech Republic.

By Dr Jessamy Kelly

Jessamy Kelly is a glass artist and educator based in Edinburgh, she has worked as a freelance glass designer for Cumbria Crystal since 2016. She is the designer of the Loop and Palm collections.

Do you have any questions or feedback? We would very much like you to share by emailing

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The History of Glass V8 | European Cut & Engraved Glass 1800-1950

European Cut & Engraved Glass 1800-1950 

By Dr Jessamy Kelly, glass artist and educator

In this post we will examine a range of European cut & engraved Glass from the Biedermeier period 1800 – 1950.

We will also look at some outstanding examples from the Viennese firm of J. and L. Lobmeyr who commissioned ground-breaking designs for their glass from the Wiener Werkstatte (Vienna Workshop), who were a group of early modernist architects and artists. 

Figure 1 Workshop of Friedrich Egermann, Goblet (about 1845). CMoG 79.3.523. Gift of The Ruth Bryan Strauss Memorial Foundation. Image licensed by The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY ( under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.


The Biedermeier period relates to the first half of the 19th century and is an extravagant period, when cut crystal became very colourful throughout Europe. Decadent, over-sized goblets were made and liberal use of colour is really what makes this period stand out. Where previous cut-crystal styles were colourless, this period saw glass transformed to rich cobalt blues, ruby reds and emerald greens in stark, bold shapes. In the early 19th century, Bohemia was a centre for new developments in glass experimentation and was led by the innovative Bohemian glass maker Friedrich Egermann, who was internationally renowned for his experimentation in glass colouration. In 1818, Egermann invented a yellow-coloured stain made from silver chloride, which provided a thin layer of colour which could be engraved through. He went on to develop a ruby coloured stain using copper (see figure 1).

Glass that imitated other materials such as marble, agate, lapis and lacquerware was very popular during this period. In 1828, Egermann patented his process for producing Lithyalin glass, an opaque marbled product that was designed to resemble semi-precious stones (see figure 2). Shortly after this period, Agatine glass (see figure 3) was developed which had a very distinctive colour and surface finish close to agate.

A Lapis glass was also created during this period by Curt Schlevogt, made to look like lapis lazuli. Hyalith glasses were also produced to imitate red Chinese and black Japanese lacquerware. These glasses were mainly produced in Southern Bohemia, around 1825 onwards (figure 4). The allure of lacquerware as a new material to the West influenced the production of objects that imitated the orient.

Figure 4 Glassworks of the Count of Buquoy, Hyalith Beaker (about 1825–1840). CMoG 79.3.219. Bequest of Jerome Strauss. Image licensed by The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY ( under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

A revival of the art of glass engraving was initiated by Ludwig Lobmeyr, the owner of the renowned Viennese glass firm J. and L. Lobmeyr which was established in 1823. The firm showcased their glass at the Paris International Exhibition of 1867 and went on to establish Lobmeyr’s reputation as an international, exclusive retail store specialising in glass. They commissioned designs from the leading Viennese architects and painters of the time including artists from the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop), the glass was made by the finest glass makers and craftsmen from across Bohemia and Austria. In 1912, Josef Hoffmann one of the founder members of the Wiener Werkstätte created the iconic ‘Series B’ glass collection for Lobmeyr. In 1914 he created a frosted version (Bronzit Series) with a black enamel decoration, which was originally sold through the Wiener Werkstätte shops (figure 5). This design became an international design classic and an early example of modernism. Finally, (figure 6) we see an outstanding set of wine glasses designed by Otto Prutscher, an Austrian architect and designer, who studied under Hoffmann. His unique geometric style employs the cameo process during which clear glass is encased with a layer of coloured glass which is then cut away to reveal the clear glass underneath.

In next month’s blog post we will explore a range of Factory art glass from the 20th century, a range of European glass designers and artists who worked with industry from the 1920s onwards. Including Simon Gate and Edward Hald from the Orrefors Glass Factory in Sweden; Kaj Franck, Timo Sarpaneva, and Tapio Wirkkala from the Ittala Glassworks in Finland and Pavel Hlava, Jan Kotik, Adolf Matura and Rene Roubicek from the Borske Sklo Glassworks, in the Czech Republic.

By Dr Jessamy Kelly

Jessamy Kelly is a glass artist and educator based in Edinburgh, she has worked as a freelance glass designer for Cumbria Crystal since 2016. She is the designer of the Loop and Palm collections.

Do you have any questions or feedback? We would very much like you to share by emailing

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The History of Glass V7 | The Baroque period – 1600-1750

The Baroque period – 1600-1750 

By Dr Jessamy Kelly, glass artist and educator

In this article we will examine the development of crystal in the 17th and 18th century and the Baroque and Rocco eras of glassmaking. The development of lead crystal by George Ravenscroft in London, in 1674 and early engraved examples from Germany and Bohemia will be discussed. 

Figure 1 Roemer, Savoy Glasshouse, made by George Ravenscroft England, London, about 1676-1678, 50.2.2. Courtesy of Corning Museum of Glass. 


The term crystal usually means glass that contains lead oxide. Only glass products that have at least 24% lead oxide can be legally called ‘lead crystal’. In the mid 17th century, George Ravenscroft discovered that if you add lead to clear glass it creates crystal, which is a glass that has a greater brilliance. The lead oxide increases the refractive index which allows the glass to bend light more to create optical and prismatic effects. This Ravenscroft wine glass is based on a German shape called a rummer and resembles a medieval goblet, the cup has diamond patterns on it which were created by pinching the vertical ribs of the glass whilst hot with pincers, a raven’s head can be seen on the stem of the goblet, which is the crest of the Ravenscroft family (see figure 1). 

A Seventeenth-century Anglo-Venetian vessel, with Dutch engraving, at The National Gallery of Victoria


Unlike many modern glass manufacturers Cumbria Crystal still use lead crystal. Our glass contains 24% lead oxide creating a brilliant shine, enabling glass to be blown thicker without discolouration and an enhanced refractive index when cut by our master craftsmen. Historically ‘full-lead’ crystal using 30% lead oxide was popular. The differences are imperceptible but enable us to reduce our environmental footprint. Being slightly softer than soda-lime glass, lead crystal is eminently suitable for carving, eventually leading to the evolution of decorative cut-crystal in which Cumbria Crystal specialises today.  

In the mid 17th century, glassmakers across central Europe developed other formulas for clear, colourless glasses. Cutters and engravers created highly ornate glass objects that imitated rock crystal by cutting into the glass with abrasive wheels. In Germany and Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), they combined potash with chalk to create a clear colourless glass, that could be cut with a wheel. They excelled in decolourised glass, creating elaborate forms with intricate cutting and engraving in the Baroque and Rococo styles.  

In the 17th century, the German gem cutter Caspar Lehmann adapted the technique of copper and bronze wheel engraving from gem cutting. Lehmann created his most significant works in the Baroque style at the Potsdam glassworks, in Brandenburg, Germany. Huge goblets and beakers often with over-sized lids were engraved for the German court (see figure 2). The engraved glass tradition was continued at Potsdam by many notable engravers including Gottfried Spiller, this beautiful covered beaker bears the monogram of Frederick III Elector of Brandenburg, the first King of Prussia (see figure 3). 

During this period, glassmaker Johann Kunckel was working at the Potsdam glassworks and produced a ruby glass by adding purple of Cassius to the batch containing gold. He created large, intricately decorated glass vessels, which were engraved and often mounted with precious metals, this piece was engraved by Gottfried Spiller (see figure 4). 

Next month we will look at European cut & engraved Glass from the Biedermeier period 1800 – 1940, we will also look at examples from the Viennese firm of J. and L. Lobmeyr who commissioned ground breaking designs for their glass from the Wiener Werkstatte, who were a group of early modernist Architects and painters. 

By Dr Jessamy Kelly

Jessamy Kelly is a glass artist and educator based in Edinburgh, she has worked as a freelance glass designer for Cumbria Crystal since 2016. She is the designer of the Loop and Palm collections.

Do you have any questions or feedback? We would very much like you to share by emailing

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Delivery updates page

Thank you for your interest in ordering world leading, completely handmade, luxury lead-crystal from Cumbria Crystal.

Please scroll down for your options when ordering in the coming months.

The luxury crystal industry is experiencing longer lead-times than normal. This is due to a combination of post-Brexit rebound and a shortage of talented craftspeople, combined with and growing demand globally for luxury products. This is compounded by increasing numbers of manufacturers moving away from working with expensive lead-crystal to cheaper materials, or by employing mass-production or automated processes to reduce costs. 

On average it takes 15 years to train a glassblower to achieve the standards we demand & five years for an engraver. We are different from many companies in that we only use original historical techniques, have not automated anything, use only traditional clay pot-furnaces and everything is done by hand by our small team of skilled staff. 

Due to the fact we currently have very little stock already created and that each order is made especially for that customer, our longest wait times now are up to 12 weeks.

What this does mean is that your order will be especially crafted in our factory in the English Lake District just for you. We endeavour to complete orders as quickly as we can without compromising on quality, but the nature of the process means it is difficult to increase production. We are currently seeking to recruit more skilled staff to help address this issue longer term.

To assist you we have a variety of options available to ensure your customer journey with Cumbria Crystal is of an excellent standard.

Are you ordering crystal for yourself and have no particular rush for it?

Please place your order as normal. We will schedule our team of artisans to create your piece(s) especially for you, 100% by hand, to be delivered within 12 weeks.

You may wish to call us +44 01229 584 400 before placing your order, or drop us an e-mail to  so our team can assess and advise which products may be available, which need to be made, and/or advise on alternatives. On occasion dispatch is delayed whilst we wait for a single item from a large order to be crafted, especially if it not something we make very often, or is in high demand. In this case you may wish to consider receiving your order in more than one delivery. Please advise us in the order notes if this option would be of interest.

Are you ordering crystal for yourself, or as a gift, would like it within the next few months but don’t mind which collection?

Please call  +44 01229 584 400 or e-mail us

We usually have a limited amount of crystal available that can be picked, polished and sent out at shorter notice. Call or e-mail us so can review your requirements and what we have available to help you meet them.

Are you ordering crystal for a gift and are happy to wait, but need something to give temporarily in place of the item?

Please place your order as normal, however in your the Notes at the Checkout section request a ‘Commission Letter’ and the address you would like it sending to ‘Send to me’ or ‘Send to recipient’. You will find more information about how our Commission Letter offer works  here. We will then request our team of artisans to create your piece(s) especially for you, 100% by hand, to be delivered to the recipient as soon as it is completed within the next 12 weeks.

Are you ordering crystal for a gift and need something within the next few days?

Please place an order for a ‘gift e-voucher’ by clicking here.

This will be sent directly to you within 1 business day. You can either choose to print the voucher, or place the unique code within a card to gift to someone. If you would like a paper voucher sending to you, please call us on +44 01229 584400 to arrange.

We hope that one of these options meets your needs and we are always available to discuss your potential order with you by calling +44 01229 584400 (Monday – Friday 10-5. Saturday & Sunday 10-4) or via e-mail

We thank you for supporting our small, British company who endeavour to keep the art of traditional crystal making alive for many years to come and we look forward to delivering our luxury crystal to your home soon.

Want to learn more about our process and why it takes a minimum of 10 days to handcraft a single item? Click here

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3 James Bond inspired cocktails for you to enjoy

double old fashion whisky tumbler

Finally, after an 18 month wait, the next instalment of the 007 franchise is here; No Time To Die.

Delayed due to the pandemic, the 25th film – and Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond – hit the big screens in the UK on 30th September.

What’s the story? Bond is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica after leaving active service. However, his peace is short-lived as his old CIA friend, Felix Leiter, shows up and asks for help.

We thought it was a great opportunity to celebrate some of Secret Agent 007’s favourite cocktails that have featured on screen over the past 59 years.

Our Grasmere Double Old Fashioned Glass featured in James Bond’s Casino Royale

Vesper Martini

As featured in CASINO ROYALE


  • 3 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Lillet blanc aperitif
  • Garnish: lemon twist


  1. Add the gin, vodka and Lillet blanc into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  3. Express the oils from a lemon twist over the drink, rub the twist along the rim of the glass and drop it into the cocktail.

Purchase the Loop Martini Glass




  • 1 1/2 ounces Campari
  • 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
  • Club soda, to top
  • Garnish: orange twist


  1. Fill a highball glass with ice, then add the Campari and sweet vermouth.
  2. Top with the club soda and stir gently to combine.
  3. Garnish with an orange twist.

Purchase the Boogie Woogie Highball Glass

Old Fashioned



  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • Garnish: orange peel


  1. Add the sugar and bitters to a rocks glass, then add the water, and stir until the sugar is nearly dissolved.
  2. Fill the glass with large ice cubes, add the bourbon, and gently stir to combine.
  3. Express the oil of an orange peel over the glass, then drop in.

Purchase the Grasmere Double Old Fashioned Glass

If you decide to give them a go, make sure you tag us when you share your photographs on social media or send directly to us at

Recipes from

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The History of Glass V6 | Venetian Glass

Venetian Glass

By Dr Jessamy Kelly, glass artist and educator

Between the 13th and 15th century, Venice was a key route for world trade, from which it rose to be the prominent and important glass making centre it is today. A distinct style emerged that blended Roman glass techniques with skills learned from the Byzantine empire. Venetian glass experienced a golden age during the Renaissance, creating superior products that became widely copied and imitated throughout Europe.

Figure 1 Wineglass (about 1600–1699). CMoG 63.3.12. Image licensed by The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY ( under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

At this time glassblowers in Venice had to be Venetian citizens and were banned from foreign travel.  In the 13th century, Glass production was moved to the island of Murano to ensure the trade secrets were kept safe and to protect the industry from outsiders. It was forbidden to divulge trade secrets. If a glassworker left the city without permission, he would be ordered to return.  If he failed, his family would be imprisoned. If he still did not return, an assassin would be sent to kill him. However, the industry was deprived of external influences which meant that the industry eventually stagnated and started to decline.

The Venetian style was widely copied and was known as Façon de Venise (Venetian fashion), a type of glass made in the style of Venetian Glass but not made in Venice itself. Often cheaper than the real thing, these imitations damaged the sale of Venetian glass.

The rise of glass as an artistic medium saw new levels of technical innovation. Early glass often had a colour-cast caused by impurities, such as metallic oxides, in the raw materials. As such clear glass was highly sought after. Venetian glass evolved to be blown very thin, effectively diluting the colour cast, and making it look clear. A major breakthrough came in 1450 when Angelo Barovier developed Cristallo glass. Cristallo is a nearly colourless glass which emulated rock crystal (see figure 1). It was usually combined with opulent decorative techniques such as enamelling and gilding which were painted on top.

Also of interest, is this fine example of a filigrana wine glass made from a delicate case of white glass canes on a thin layer of cristallo. This wine glass is known as the Rosenborg type, it was made for the Danish king, Frederick IV and were sent to castle Rosenborg (see figure 2).

A true feat of Venetian glass making is this 17th century dragon-stem goblet which has a serpent with wings for its stem. The style has its origin in the Baroque period (see figure3). Glass artist Bill Gudenrath, is one of a few contemporary craftsmen who have perfected this technique; watch an online demonstration of Bill making a dragon-stem goblet at the Corning Museum of Glass, in America.

Figure 4. Bowl (1600–1699). CMoG 9.3.1108. Gift of the Ruth Bryan Strauss Memorial Foundation.Image licensed by The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY ( under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

The Renaissance saw a mania for hardstones such as chalcedony, agate, jade, jasper, bloodstone, prase, topaz and lapis lazuli spread across Europe. Venetian glassmakers began to imitate these materials in their glass creating intricate, coloured effects. This Calcedonio bowl is in the collection of the Corning Museum of Glass and is also known as agate glass. It is an excellent example of this technique which sees a light opaque background mixed with warm and darker tones of coloured oxides creating the streaky agate, or quartz-like, effect (see figure 4).

Highly innovative, the Venetian glassmakers experimented with Roman glass techniques, a range of typical Venetian glassblowing techniques developed from what was known as mosaic glass. Renowned for decorating their glass vessels with brightly coloured cane and fine filigree. Techniques such as millefiori (thousand flowers) were created. Multi-coloured glass rods were bundled together, rather like spaghetti, fused & then stretched to make to make a new rod with the pattern. A similar process to extruding making sweets such as sticks of rock.  Slices were then cut off, assembled to make a  pattern & fused together to create a sheet of glass which could be rolled up into vessel forms containing a pattern of tiny delicate flowers (see figure 5). These techniques survive today and are widely practiced in the studio glass community.

Next month we will look at the development of crystal from 17th and 18th century, with early examples from Germany and Bohemia and the development of lead crystal by George Ravenscroft in London, in 1674.

By Dr Jessamy Kelly

Jessamy Kelly is a glass artist and educator based in Edinburgh, she has worked as a freelance glass designer for Cumbria Crystal since 2016. She is the designer of the Loop and Palm collections.

Do you have any questions or feedback? We would very much like you to share by emailing

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As seen on screen with Cumbria Crystal

Over the past few decades, Cumbria Crystal has graced our big, and small, screens countless times.

Why does it appear to be the Crystal of choice for the industry you ask? Firstly, due to the lead crystal content, it offers incredible shine and sparkle under studio lights. Secondly, our Grasmere collection – which is the collection of choice for the industry – fits perfectly into stories set in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Below we share some examples of our crystal in motion and we very much welcome you to get in touch if you have seen our collections grace your screen at any point

Grasmere Highball featured in The Crown (Netflix)

Casino Royale

Thanks to 007, our Grasmere Double Old Fashioned Whiskey glass is our most popular item with customers around the world enjoying their favourite whiskey or bourbon from this vessel. It is after a close shave in the 2006 film that Bond decides to calm his nerves with something strong from our very own glass. We have the exact moment right here for you to watch.

Purchase Grasmere Double Old Fashioned Whiskey Glass (inc. free premium gift box)

Sherlock Holmes

Set just before the turn of the 20th century in 1891, we see Holmes and Watson (Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law) enjoying – or rather squabbling over – champagne from our Vintage style glasses whilst Holmes older brother, Mycroft (Steven Fry) sips a suspected dark rum from the same glass that 007 favours.

Purchase a set of Grasmere Vintage Champagne Flutes (inc. free premium gift box)

Downton Abbey

We are extremely proud to have supplied all the crystal for the filming of Downton Abbey for both the series and film. Our Grasmere collection fits perfectly with the early 20th century setting and aristocratic lifestyle of the Crawleys.

We have specifically chosen the clip above as not only does it show our crystal in motion at Downton but it features one of our wonderful team members Hilary Frankland who, after 23 years as our lead crystal marker, is retiring.

Wishing you a happy and healthy retirement Hilary from all at Cumbria Crystal, customers, followers and friends.

double old fashion whisky tumbler

Where else have you spotted our crystal? Maybe you have taken a trip to the cinema or began a new box set and thought you recognised what the characters are drinking from?

Sometimes we work directly with the production company to provide our crystal for their sets but other times they are supplied via prop companies so we know we have appeared in many pieces of media we are yet to discover. Do drop us an email if you have any information to share with us

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The History of Glass V5 | Byzantine Glass

Byzantine Glass

By Dr Jessamy Kelly, glass artist and educator

This month we will discuss the epoch of Byzantine Glass from the Middle East, which saw an elevated demand as high-end, luxury objects spread around the world, widely dispersing Islamic glass through trade.

Figure 1 Glass flask, blown glass, 4th–6th century A.D. Early Byzantine, Roman, Syrian. Image courtesy of the Met Museum.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Western glass making was seriously affected. However, in the East, highly decorative glass continued to flourish with a range of mosaics, kiln cast and blown glass vessels produced during this period.

The Byzantine Empire was the continued legacy of the Roman Empire in the East during late antiquity (284AD-700AD) into the middle-ages (5th– 15th century). Constantinople, known today as Istanbul, was the capital of the Roman Empire, in Turkey. When considering Byzantine glass from this period, it is apparent that there is a superfluity of technique and process.

During the 9th century decorative techniques were pioneered, including metallic stains which created a lustre. Into the 10th & 11th century cast and cut vessels were improved upon with some very fine examples created. Between the 12th and 14th centuries gilding and enamelling techniques were pioneered, creating beautifully ornate designs on the glass.

Byzantine glass makers were based in the Levant, better known today as Syria and Palestine. They worked in a distinct style, notable examples from this period include glass drinking flasks that have a u-shaped mouth, where the mouth of the bottle is like a cylindrical funnel usually with fine threads of glass wound around the neck, often with handles to aid pouring (see figure 1). Or, a swan shaped neck, where the delicate neck of the bottle is twisted back (see figure 2). These are often called ashkdans and were apparently for collecting the tears of wives whose husbands were fighting wars. 

Mosaics were a huge part of the Roman Empire and exceptional examples were created during the Byzantine period. Mosaics are images or patterns created from numerous small pieces of coloured stone, glass or ceramic set with mortar and were often used as floor or wall decoration. This beautiful panel (see figure 3) is a mix of marble and glass tesserae. It depicts a woman with very detailed jewellery holding a measuring tool, with a man offering a cornucopia to her left. The piece was restored by the Met Museum and is held in their collection.

Our final example is a beautifully enamelled and gilded glass candlestick. The surface is completely covered in Islamic geometric patterns, which include hand-painted hexagons and stars that encircle the piece (see figure 4). It is a fine example of Mamluk art from the late 14th and 15th centuries, the inscription on the piece is dedicated to a Mamluk sultan. The Mamluk capital Cairo, became a centre of trade in the Islamic world which created an economic, cultural and artistic hub.

Figure 4. Candlestick, enamelled and gilded blown glass, probably Egypt, about 1340-1365. Image courtesy of the Corning Museum of Glass.

Next month we will look at Venetian Glass from the 15th-17th Centuries, a style emerged that blended Roman glass making techniques with skills learned from the Byzantine Empire. Located at the European end of the famous Silk Road, which stretched all the way to China, Venice became a great trading centre and the most important glass-making centre in the world.

By Dr Jessamy Kelly

Jessamy Kelly is a glass artist and educator based in Edinburgh, she has worked as a freelance glass designer for Cumbria Crystal since 2016. She is the designer of the Loop and Palm collections.

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3 places to see beautiful stained glass in England

Inspired by Volume 4 of our The History of Glass series – which focuses on Medieval Glass – we decided to highlight 3 beautiful examples of stained glass within England that you can go and visit during the summer.

Photo by Luca Lago on Unsplash

  1. St Paul’s Monastery, Jarrow (Tyne and Wear)

The monastery at Jarrow was one of Europe’s most influential centres of learning and culture in the 7th century. The remains standing today are from the medieval monastery, but part of the Anglo-Saxon monastery survives today as the chancel of St Paul’s Church.

Visiting information Free to enter and open any reasonable time during daylight hours. Sat nav NE32 2DY.

Reconstructed stained glass made from excavated glass from St Paul’s Church, Jarrow, Courtesy of the Jarrow Hall Museum Collection

However, to see Europe’s largest collection of Saxon Coloured Window Glass you will need to make your way over to Jarrow Hall around the corner from the church.

2. St Lawrence Jewry, City of London

The official church to the Lord Mayor of London, this place of worship was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and rebuilt to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren (St Paul’s Cathedral). Understated compared to its designers grander projects, this baroque building was extensively damaged during the Second World War but still remained standing and was made a listed building in 1950.

Visiting information Equidistant to 4 Tube stations: Bank (Exit 9), Mansion House, St. Paul’s and Moorgate. EC2V 5AA (next to Guildhall).


Want a deeper stained-glass fix whilst in London? Hot foot your way across the city to the splendid V&A museum (free entry) where you will find a very good collection of glass from Egyptian to the present day.

3. Claife Heights Viewing Station, Ambleside (Cumbria)

On the shores of the largest lake in England you will find this viewing station built in the 1790s which offers breath-taking views of Windermere and its surrounding area.

Best known for its dinner dances in 1830s and 40s – which had the exciting novelty of being reached by boat – the building had windows tinted with coloured glass, designed to recreate the landscape under different seasonal conditions. Yellow created a summer landscape, orange an autumn one, light green for spring, dark blue for moonlight and so on.

Although open air and inclined to be classed as ruins, the National Trust have restored the remaining structure bringing back the coloured glass to provide the 21st century visitor with a similar visual experience guests had 200 years ago.

Visiting information Take the ferry from Bowness on Windermere and you are just a few minutes away from this location where there is also a café. Sat nav LA22 0LR.

Did you know you are only 40 minutes – and a beautiful along-the-lake drive – from the Cumbria Crystal shop and factory? Come and see our artisans at work and get to see our luxurious crystal for yourself. Just head to Ulverston and we are opposite Booths at the entrance to the town (sat nav LA12 7LB).

Do you have a favourite spot featuring stained or coloured glass? Let us know via social media or email Photographs are always welcomed.