Recently on facebook, one of our more advanced collectors of early American glass posted a picture of some glass turtles in a garden setting (see below). It reminded me of some of the more whimsical glass pieces that I have collected over the years prompting this post.
Glass workers did not have time to amuse themselves with their creations during working hours. Pay scales were equated to the volume of the product or numbers of piece work. A major problem the workers faced when they made a whimsey, was preventing someone else from taking it. The item had to be cooled in the left overnight, and whoever was first to get to work the next morning had the opportunity to grab the whimsey if he was so inclined. Some workers just expected their whimsies to disappear and were surprised when it was still there for them to have.
These whimsical items the glass blowers made on their own time included canes, chain, hats, sock darners, doorstop turtles, bellows bottles, bells, witch balls, banks, powder horns, pipes, rolling pins, horns, and many more items. In fact, there are additional items coming to collectors’ attention every year. These include witch wands, gavels, screw drivers, pistols, and swords.
Glass “turtles” were easily made by glass workers. By taking a full ladle of molten glass and lying it on a table or cooling rack, and gently pulling at the glass for the legs, tail and head, a turtle was made! Reference: Glass House Whimsies By Mark and Elaine Corriero.
Here are a few pictures. I welcome additional pictures so I can add to this gallery.