COOL & COL­LECTED

Let del­i­cate ha­los of spun glass daz­zle in your home this hol­i­day sea­son.

Cottages & Bungalows - - Contents - BY CAITLIN RAGAN I PHOTOGRAPHY BY JICKIE TOR­RES

GLASS

FROM THE

Past

The hunt for

the per­fect hol­i­day ornament is a yearly tra­di­tion.

From the glitzy stars to the hum­ble manger scenes, surf­board­ing San­tas to bal­leri­nas and nut­crack­ers, you’ve seen it all on your tree. For a dif­fer­ent ornament this year, hark back to tra­di­tional spun glass.

SPUN GLASS HIS­TORY

We have glass fibers to­day thanks to the an­cient Egyp­tians and Greeks, who knew how to melt and stretch glass to aide in con­struc­tion. Sim­i­lar tech­niques of heat­ing and stretch­ing glass com­mer­cial­ized in the 1930s, and the process of pulling glass into thin strands con­tin­ues in cur­rent man­u­fac­tur­ing. Not only do glass fibers serve as in­su­la­tion and build­ing re­in­force­ment, but also as art pieces, like spun­glass or­na­ments and fig­ures.

The term “spun glass” de­scribes the look of the glass as it hard­ens; shapes form when the glass is warm, and then as­sem­ble as del­i­cate strands that look woven to­gether as it cools. Fig­ures styled in spun glass are also pop­u­lar col­lec­tor items, and spun-glass baby slip­pers are a com­mon gift for new­borns around the hol­i­day sea­son.

COL­LECT­ING YOUR OWN

In these or­na­ments, made of glass as thin as silk thread, a plume of spun glass sur­rounds molded plas­tic an­gels. You’ll find sim­i­lar styles with var­i­ous Christ­mas themes and char­ac­ters. Faces like old Saint Nick, an­gels and an­i­mals are com­mon as the or­na­ments’ cen­ter­pieces. Other pop­u­lar styles were glass or fiber­glass bird or­na­ments with spun-glass tails. Pop­u­lar in the 1900s, the fes­tive or­na­ments sold cheaply, start­ing at 59¢ per box. Of­ten mul­ti­ple spun-glass or­na­ments were sold as a set for a higher price. The kitschy-but-clas­sic tree dé­cor now sells for an av­er­age of $10 to $12 for one piece.

When col­lect­ing your own glass or­na­ments, watch for thin­ning and other wear-and-tear from mis­han­dling. You’ll want your glass pieces to sparkle. See­ing your spun-glass or­na­ments, guests will be sure to ad­mire the new dé­cor on your tree.

Spun-glass fibers are usu­ally white in color,

colored spun glass

while has al­ways been much harder to find.

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