Decorative Art Glass Decor History and Process

Unique glass figurines at The Russian Store! Since each of these figurines is hand-blown, and handcrafted one at a time, each piece of glass winds up having it's own distinct personality with no two being alike! In a time when mass production leaves most things feeling a little soulless, we're proud that our gaffers in St. Petersburg do things the old fashioned way. We believe it gives our glass figurines their own character, and adds a sort of charm that certain gifts nowadays are missing

Glass Figurines for the Home

Russian glass is beautiful and special. Now that you know that, what can you really do with a figurine? Well for one you can marvel at the detail, and elegance of each piece. These items are after all decorative pieces, and what better way to lively up a room than having a zoo of glass figurines sitting on display!

From vibrant reds, to light and airy blues, whatever color scheme you're going for, there's sure to be a figurine that can accent, or compliment it. After all, it's those little touches in every room that really give it the charm, coziness and comfort of a home. Something about the elegance of glass, along with the luminosity of these colors, and the shape of an animal really warm up the atmosphere in a room. The beautiful thing about these figurines is that they're relatively small (most of our pieces are under 6 inches) so they won't over power any kind of decor you're aiming for, but they'll add that certain something intangible that just makes everyone more at ease. There's just something comforting at seeing a little glass penguin sitting on a desk, it's a subtle touch that makes everything seem a little friendlier, a little happier, a little less "cold" - which is somewhat ironic, in the case of a penguin figurine anyway. We can't put our finger on it, but we like it, and apparently so do our customers.

"I was looking for a small little accent to decorate a pretty barren bathroom with, when I noticed a friend had put a few cat figurines near her sink. I thought it was a cute idea, and I stumbled upon your site, they arrived quickly, they were packed great, and they looked beautiful, so I bought some more, and again was happy – this is my third order, and I'm running out of space in my bathroom – I might need to build another just so I can decorate it." Caity L. New London, Wisconsin.

Now we don't think Caity really needs to build another bathroom, since the figures look great in all sorts of locations. Our personal favorite is on a kitchen windowsill, the light dances, and leaps around in a gorgeous prism of color, and really brightens up the mood.

Brief History of Russian Glass

Glass has a long and storied history around the world. It occasionally occurs naturally, usually in the case of lightning hitting a sandy beach, or around a meteorite impact, or near a volcanic eruption, but a little over 5000 years ago mankind began to understand the science behind its creation, and it has harnessed that knowledge to create beautiful works of art.

The name Russian glass carries with it a certain clout, and esteem, it's almost synonymous with quality, but what makes Russian glass so great? Why are these imported figurines from St. Petersburg better than the others? Especially now that glass has become so readily available. Well the answer lies in a tradition of excellent yet to be surpassed. Around roughly 1,000 AD in what cities scattered throughout Russia, and what is now modern day Ukraine, glass workers not only perfected the art of glass blowing, but they came up with the perfect ingredients, pigments, and methods to make their glass more colorful than anyone else.

To quote Dwight P. Lanmon, director of the world famous Corning Museum of Glass in New York City, "There is one aspect of Russian glass that separates it from the rest of the world, they used more color earlier than anywhere else. You get brilliant green, brilliant red, brilliant blue, brilliant purple and opaque white."

This knowledge of color has been passed down throughout the generations of Russian glassblowers and remains to this day. Modern technology helps speed up the process, but generational knowledge assures the process will lead to perfection. Though knowledge is more readily available now, Russian craftsman still have a thousand years on the competition, knowledge of glass, how to shape it, how to color it, is in their blood. Compare some of our imported glass figurines to other competitors, and you'll see, in plain color, that ours are the best around.

Set them on a window sill, or on a shelf, and when the sunlight catches the trunk of that glass elephant, or the neck of that glass giraffe figurine, you'll realize that Russian glass truly benefits from its long past!

How glass figurines are made

Glass Blowers in Russia Making Art Glass
Glass Blowers in Russia Making Art Glass

The basic techniques of sculpting and blowing glass include forming the glass into a ball on the end of a rod, flattening the heated end of the glass rod, welding it, and working with glass tubes.

The artist starts with a table covered in asbestos or other similar refractory material. In the middle of the table there is a burner with a hoses attached for compressed oxygen. The inner workings of the glass-blowing burner regulates the flow of gas, air and oxygen. Then, dioxide, oxygen and air are mixed and passed through a cylindrical mesh inside the burner. Terminal screws can adjust the burner in vertical and horizontal positions.

The glass blower uses a blowpipe or blow tube to make a bubble in the heated glass, and then uses torch tools in various shapes like circular, wide, or flat, to help him mold a beautiful piece. Regular scissors can cut through hot glass, and a triangular copper spatula on wooden handles are used to expand funnels, supports vessels, and align the cavities and edges inside. The glass is manipulated and changed by the air through the blowpipe, and colors are slowly added. Once the piece is complete, it slowly cools down at room temperature. Embellishments can be added on, and cutting, sandblasting, etching, enameling, gilding, and painting can all used to enhance the finished product.

Glass Blowers in Russia Making Art Glass
Glass Blowers in Russia Making Art Glass

The high levels of heat that are necessary to melt glass cause an intense light within the glass itself. Safety goggles are worn to protect the eyes and to allow you to see the bubbles being formed in the glass. Ventilation is also extremely important in this field, so the glass-smith, or gaffer requires a professional work space.

Hand-blown glass has been around for centuries, most likely discovered around 50 B.C. At the time it was considered a luxury and owned by the wealthiest of patrons. Today glass-blowing can be found in many schools and can be seen by the public at demonstration events. Glass art can be functional or decorative. It generally takes a lot of practice to become a professional. It is a complex procedure with beautiful results.


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