The unsung-heroes which enabled the intricate patterns and details to be replicated are the mould makers themselves. When you consider that no ‘magic machine’ or laser technology existed during the Art Deco period, one can only marvel at their remarkable achievements. Each mould would require to be fraction perfect in every minute detail, and nothing less would be enough to create quality Art Deco press moulded glass.

Many French glass producing factories and designers used the skills of two brothers called Franckhauser to produce their moulds. These two brothers produced the moulds for Sabino, Lalique, Verlys and D’Avesn and many others. Again this is quite remarkable given the complexity and the accuracy demanded by each individual designer. It is also evident that several moulds of the same pattern were often required to prevent chemical contamination/compatibility from glass colour type to type. Precious (and costly) moulds could also be damaged or become affected by extensive use. This may account for items that are unsigned or numbered. It is also evident that if by adding a moulded signature affected the overall design of a piece then it would at times be omitted.

Grinding & polishing a finished piece is also a time consuming and labour-intensive procedure, and once again skilled workers were required to provide a sale-worthy piece following all the procedures before it. Most vases were produced from 2 to 4-part releasing moulds and as the molten glass was pressed and/or blown into every millimetre of the patterned details, moulding lines were always considered a working nuisance at best avoided when possible. Many forward-thinking designers incorporated moulding lines within the design of a piece and in an area where they were not obvious or would enable any excess of unwanted glass to be removed more easily once the glass had cooled.

It is also worth noting, that most glass figurines & female sculptures by any maker were produced vertically and released from their moulds in a vertical position. The glass workers then used hand-tools to lean the sculpture into its final shape before the glass had cooled, or adjusted certain features, such as the tails & fins of fish figurines, to prevent sagging or distortion of shape through the actions of gravity. It can also be noted that practically all press moulded glass figurines of animal or female studies are moulded as one solid piece, and rarely if at all, will gaps or spaces ‘between the limbs’ of these items be evident. The reasons for this are once again due to the actions of gravity whilst the glass is still in a semi-molten state. A raised arm of a lady sculpture, for example, will simply collapse, as so to would a bent-elbow with a hand placed upon her head or in a posture of sitting crossed-legged or stepping as if to walk.

The Etling sculpture by Lucille Sevin ‘Femme nue au bras tendu’, perhaps demonstrates the previous paragraph. The design incorporates a wide panel of glass that not only portrays a costume and produces a stunning shape and symmetry to the sculpture, it has also enabled the female figure to outstretch her left arm. The chiffon-thinness at the edges of her costume also allows for the moulding lines to be unaffecting as they contribute to the edges of it. Notice also the space between her ankles which again is disguised within the overall design. None of this would prove a problem had the sculpture been made from cast-metal, but glass is a very different working medium which requires a totally different approach and meticulous skill to create a sculpture as remarkable as this.

ritzyvintage – C.B.