When selecting a Tiffany lamp the primary consideration you must look for, after deciding on a particular design, is the use of the glass in the lamp. So then begs the question; what makes one lamp shine with beautiful color and ambient light and another with the same design looks completely flat? It is the type of glass used.
Avoid Dull – Colorless Glass
Once you have seen a Tiffany lamp that has the dull colored glass you will be able to spot them a mile away. When the lamp is not lit the lampshade looks quite dull and almost colorless. For instance, you think the color is blue or green but there is no intensity to the color of the glass. A Tiffany lampshade should be just as beautiful unlit as lit.
Textured Glass in Tiffany Lamps
Another thing to look for in the glass is the character or texture of it. Even in pictures of Tiffany lamps you can see that they have variegated or different hues of color in each piece of glass. Also, clear glass is not the glass of choice. It is used as a design element, because it will make the lamp sparkle where the light comes through. Most times the clear colored glasses are textured too to give more depth to the picture the lamp is trying to convey. Because that is what a Tiffany lampshade is, a rounded picture put on a lampshade. If you look at it that way you will then be able to see right away the lamp that doesn’t have anything to show. It will just be a mishmash of glass slapped together trying to pass itself off as a Tiffany lampshade.
Copper Foiling in Tiffany Lamps
The next thing to look for is the how the copper foil interrupts the flow of the lamp. I say this because if the copper foiling process, which is what holds the pieces of glass together, is so obvious and thick that your eye is drawn to it, then you have a bad copper foil job. I rarely run across a lamp with this problem, but when I have it was very obvious, even online. And, these were the same lamps that had colorless dull glass, and for some reason also used a lot of clear glass too. I think the manufacturer realized that the lamp was going to be so dark that they needed the clear glass to give off some light.
Building a Picture
The last consideration is the way the glass was cut. This is not always a truism, but as I look at my lamps I always notice that there was a rhyme and reason to why a particular piece of glass was cut with the grain or design going through it a particular way. The leaves might have longer lines to denote length. A flower petal will have the grain going one way on one petal and another way on another. And, when you stand back you can see what the artist was painting with the glass. And, if it is obvious what the picture is then the artist has done his job well.
You would think that I would say that price was a consideration, but nowadays it really isn’t. With the advent of the Internet we are a global market and Tiffany lamps are being produced all over the world at varying prices. I have seen dragonfly lamps that are absolutely beautiful priced at one online store in the $100.00 range, and at another store in the $900 range because it is made of Favrile glass and has six Favrile candelabra lamps which light the lampshade. It all depends on what you are looking for. They are all beautiful in their own way, notwithstanding the price you pay.
So go out there and have a look at some Tiffany lamps. You won’t regret it. They add a touch of class to your decor and a wonderful source of light for any room. They come in table lamps, floor lamps, hanging pendants, chandeliers, billiard, sconce, shades for ceiling fans, mini or accent lamps, and close or flush ceiling lights.
MaryAnn is a longtime collector of Tiffany lamps and enjoys passing on her love of the craftsmanship and history of the Tiffany lamps to her friends and acquaintances. Her love of glass also extends to handblown vases. Subscribe to her free newsletter for interesting bits of history and information on good buys on Tiffany lamps and vases at http://www.tiffany-glass-etc.com