SundryShop.com offers the largest slection of collectible hand blown European glass ornaments on the Internet. A primary reason why Christopher Radko, Patricia Breen, Kurt Adler Polonaise, Vaillancourt Folk Art, Larry Fraga, & other ornaments become enduring collectibles goes beyond supply and demand and includes the extensive skill, time, artistry, and quality of craftsmanship.
Although product characteristics differ among these companies, they all use fundamentally the same European hand blown ornament production techniques that have been passed down through the generations. At least seven days are required from the day the glass ornament is hand blown to the application of the final finishes. However, weeks and some times months are required to conceptualize and approve the design and mold before each ornament is made.
While glass ornaments companies such as Old World Inge Glas and the earlier Christopher Radko’s earlier creations have used glass ornament molds available from previous generations, embellishing the ornaments with their own artistic interpretations, these and other leading hand blown glass ornament companies also began creating their own unique molds, thereby achieving appealing innovations and expansion of themes.
Note that the production of hand blown glass ornaments, as explained in this blog, is different from the free form, mouth-blown glass ornaments made primarily in Italy, a glass ornament production process that will be described in a separate blog
Conceiving a New Design
During the ornament creation, artists first render the new design in a drawing that interprets the ornament in three dimensions. Ornament production ensues only after a prototype is approved by various parties within and possibly outside the company. The artist must work closely with a skilled carver to create a model from plaster or clay and give final approval to the design, after which the carved piece is given to the mold maker. A sand-cast mold from molten metal is then made using Renaissance-era techniques.
Day 1 – Heating the Glass & Hand Blowing It Into the Mother Mold
First the glass is heated and then hand blown into a heated metal mold using the following steps. Because the assembled mold is completely sealed at the bottom, the bottom stem of the heated tube is clipped off, but a hole at the top of the mold allows the top stem to be preserved. The older half of the mold is placed on top and secured in place. Using the intact stem, the glass artisan blows into the encased, heated glass tube, enabling it to conform to the mold's contours. After the glass ornament is blown, there will be a seam where the two sides join, a production artifact that is anticipated and aesthetically accommodated during the design and painting stages.
Once the glass fully cools, the clear glass ornament can be removed from the mold. However, the long stem at the top of the ornament is retained because it allows the artisan to more effectively handle the glass ornament during the subsequent gilding, painting, and glittering. Following this procedure, the clear glass ornaments are hand blown one at a time.
The glassblower uses either regular or tempered glass. Similar to Pyrex, the tempered glass enhances durability, but also makes the ornament heavier. Use of either type of glass is equally acceptable, with the quality of the mold and additional steps determining the completed glass ornament's collectible appeal.
The newly created clear hand blown glass ornament requires 24 hours to completely harden.
Day 2 – Silvering The Glass Ornament
The inside of the clear glass ornament is hand infused with liquid silver. It is this silvering that gives the ornament its amazing luminescence. Again, 24 hours is required for the silver to dry.
Day 3 – Applying the Base Coat
The ornament artist hand-paints a base coat on the exterior surface of the glass ornament. As examples, the artisan apllies the basecoat pearl color of a snowman or of Santa's red coat. Additional dominant colors can be applied after the base coat dries.
Day 4 – Applying Lacquer to Add Vivid Colors
On the fourth day, the artist applies vivid lacquer colors that further develop the artistic theme and integrity of the ornament. Once again, 24 hours are required for the paint to dry.
Day 5 – Adding Painted Details
On Day 5, artisans with strong aesthetic abilities painstakingly attend to painting details that imbue each ornament with its own unique essence and life. Even though the clear glass ornaments are produced using the same mold, each one becomes a one-of-a-kind artistic creation. Note how the artist continues holding on to the stem at the top of the ornament while applying paint and will also continue using it during Day 6.
Day 6 – Adding Glittering Details
Not only does the artist attend to some additional painting detail as needed, but glitter is applied, a painstaking process that can require the use of different glitter colors and textures. The glitter gives the ornament a magical, dazzling effect.
During the 2000s, Patricia Breen innovated glittering techniques that became an art form in and of itself and required additional time for layered applications. In effect, the artist painted with glitter, an extremely time-intensive process. These have become some of the most collectible, sought-after contemporary collectible ornaments.
Day 7 – The Final Touches
On the seventh day, the ornament is carefully inspected for quality. Those that have problems are taken out of the primary ornament production and not sold because they are inferior seconds. The long stem is clipped so that it can be covered by the customized cap, hanger, and tag. The ornament is then carefully packaged for shipment so that it can be transported to ornament distributors and primary retailer.
Pictorial Summary of the Hand-Blown Ornament Production
The picture below summarizes the ornament production stages. However, note that the representations exclude various different application stages of lacquer detailing, glittering, and revisions that truly make hand blown and handcrafted glass ornament production a painstaking, work-of-art process.
A Word of Caution
Most ornament seconds are destroyed, but now always. Recently some Christopher Radko seconds have found their way to the collector because of private purchases made of Polish factory inventory following the sale of Christopher Radko’s business to Raush in 2007. Collectors should exercise caution in buying from reputable sellers who don’t sell these inferior seconds. Also, pay attention to collector guide information and bulletin boards to avoid buying something other than the authentic, originally produced ornaments.
Original, highly sought-after limited editions made ten or more years ago, for example, are suspect if they show up for sale in large numbers through a secondary market seller - the strongly-in-demand ornament would have sold out shortly after production and would not still be aviailble in such large numbers. Reproductions are beginning to show up on eBay, so please be careful. While you might be pleased to find a rare-find, prized ornament advertised in "like-new" condition auctioning on eBay after conducting an Internet search, the find creates a "tunnel view" of the one item that you end upbidding on. You might not realize that the same seller has sold scores of the same ornament, all reproductions with hand numbered tags recently produced. Most certainly, the originally produced ornaments can become available, but high demand, very collectible examples are tightly held by collectors. While authentic fine European hand blown glass ornaments are likely to increae in value, paying several hundred dollars for a reproduced ornament is not a wise investment. Please exercise cuation. Before you begin bidding, search the number of the same ornaments the seller has completed. And if you are suspicious, observe for a period of time how many are still being sold. If too many of a limited edition or artist proof (AP) ornament are being sold by one seller, then it's too good to be true.
SundryShop.com Extensive Authentic European Hand Blown Glass Ornament Collection
SundryShop has created a unique webstore selling platform that allows collectors to find & purchase collectible glass ornametns at any time, seven days a week. When you create a cart, all items are automatically combined and you will be immediately emailed an invoice following purchase. The item that you purchase disappears from the webstore, although we in cases have more than one, selling each item with its unique condition and edition number cited. In regard to condition, we cite what is present. Therefore, if the ornament is in like-new condition but without a hang tag, it will be described as "mint". If it is in like-new condition and with the hang tag, it will be described as "Mint with Tag'. We work very hard to stipulate where the signature occurs, so plesase read the condition statement in the description carefully.
At this time, we are selling mostly the collectible, retired ornaments. Many come to us through specialized consignments services that we offer to seniors or families in distress, and we also buy collections and individual ornaments. Feel free to contact us at any time if you have questions about our merchandise.
Please feel free to browse our extensive collection of fine, hand blown glass Christmas ornaments, all extensively categorically indiexed so that you can quickly find what you are want: Christopher Radko, Patricia Breen, Kurt Adler Polonaise, Larry Fraga, Inge Glass, Vaillaincourt Folk Art, vintage ornaments, Slavic Treasures, and more