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The Candlestick Corner BLOG

...from candle-lit dinners to candle safety-first. A blog by Claire - Unique Candleholders

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A modernist write up on Holmegaard Glass

...shows just how good these glass candleholders are

Posting date: 14th May 2007 15:56

Holmegaard

With thanks to www.modernistglass.com

Holmegaard is the famous Danish glass manufacturer founded in 1825. Per Lütken was Holmegaard's designer from 1942 until his death in 1998 and was a genius of glass design. His glass generally looks very simple but, despite that, it's unique. No-one else made glass that looked like his. Smoke gray and a pale steel blue were his colours of choice in the 1950s.

The simpler the design, the more obvious any flaws. Holmegaard craftsmanship is superb. Their glass is generally clear, bubble-free, and often beautifully thick and weighty.

In "Miller's Glass of the '50s and '60s" Nigel Benson writes - "Per Lütken (1916-98) was a prolific designer ... for Holmegaard and Kastrup. His awareness of the qualities of glass and his ability to explore its plasticity exhibit a great understanding of his craft".

We have to remind ourselves that most of the pieces we own are from the 1950s and early 60s. Most of his designs still look fresh and different to anything else today. These treasures are getting harder and harder to find.

As another of our books, 20th Century Factory Glass (Lesley Jackson) says, "[a]lthough Lütken himself never learned to blow glass, he worked so closely with the glassmakers that he was able to exploit techniques of which normally only a practitioner would be aware." Many of these special techniques he invented himself.

Part of the reason it looks different is that Lütken and his colleagues developed new techniques. In Lütken?s own book, Glass is Life, Mogens Schluter, in an afterword explains some of the technical innovations used by Holmegaard:

During the fifties, Per Lütken?s visions of the flowing glass which sets in movement, were really developed in many art glass series, for example The Beakvase and the slung dishes. Here the centrifugal force was exploited distinctly. The dishes were not necessarily round. A few touches with a wet newspaper and they became triangular.

When Per Lütken mentions wet paper, it usually means newspaper. It is a splendid tool which, held in the hand, can form glass in many ways. Water is used as a kind of lubricant and all tools and forms are dripping wet while work is in progress. The water evaporates on contact with the hot glass and the steam creates a protective film between tool and glass. This makes the handmade glass beautiful and shiny.

Water is also used in other ways. For example, stream pressure is used to blow the glass. From ancient times a wet pin has been used to produce the baroque hollow stem. The moisture in the pin inflated the stem. This old trick led in 1955 to the development of the self-blown bowl. The idea was to give a slung bowl a special form over a block. It was wet, of course, and should normally have had air holes to allow the steam created to escape. They had been forgotten, the steam was shut in and inflated the bowl. The art was to see, immediately, the possibilities which lay in this discovery. Lütken had this ability.

Blowing with a wet pin was developed further during the last half of the fifties, when Per Lütken produced a long line of art glasses using this classical method. First a hole is poked with a metal mandrel in the hot clump of glass. Then the hole is closed with wet pin and the glass is blown. The pin blown art glasses were produced in innumerable forms because here again Lütken understood how to exploit and develop the old technique in a new way. Given a clump of glass which is hollowed by pinblowing, it is in a sense possible to form it as one desires; it can be opened out into a vase, a bowl or a completely flat dish. All these glasses have the soft rim which Lütken wanted. It was the artist who controlled the technique not the other way round.?

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