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