Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Things get twisted.

During this past field season several units in the Compton field produced wineglass stems. One of the most interesting types was stems with white spirals inside. This decoration caught the attention of many screeners because it was both distinct and beautiful. Originally a Venetian design known as latticino, our stems are in the rococo style. They are known as opaque white ribbon twists or enamel twists. The stems which contain colored ribbon twists were much less popular.

Two examples of this decorating technique are shown above. Both use a compound twist design: a central core with ribbons spiraling around it. The left image has a central cable with a single ribbon surrounding it. The bright white of the strands suggests this wineglass was made in England. The ­­image on the right has a double helix twist encircled by a multi-strand ribbon. This stem may be from Continental Europe, as the decorations are a more watery white and the glass is not as clear. This stem may have originally looked like the central image.

To create this lovely decoration, a glass maker rolled enamel threads into glass and twisted. The technique was developed in Venice and spread to other countries via either England or Bohemia around 1700. The English, however, used white enamel almost exclusively in stemware. This style spread to the colonies as early as the 1740’s, but their popularity peaked between 1760 and 1775.

Anne and Kelley

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