Fact No. 327. (Published on 12/14/2005)

Cameo Glass

The creation of cameo glass has two important steps. First, a glass blank is created by blowing or fusing together at least two layers of color. Second, the out layer(s) of glass are carved so that a design of the underlying colors is revealed.

The first cameo glass was created at least 2,000 years ago and was at its height of popularity at the turn of the 20th century in Britain.

It was during this period that George Woodall, Thomas Webb and their peers created works of stunning beauty and almost incomprehensible technical execution. Included among these is The Great Tazza – a large, ornate footed bowl that includes five layers of different colored glass. The piece was the star of the 1990 Paris International Exhibit.

Most cameo glass has only two layers of glass (frequently white over blue) though they are often no less spectacular. For example, in many of Woodall's work he and his team created shadows and, in the case of Floralia, even translucency of fabric simply by varying the thickness of the outer layer of white glass.

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