Clearly Beautiful

By Karen Parr-Moody

 

Clear materials, whether glass or Lucite, impart lightness to any room. Sophisticated and airy, clear materials have inherently versatile properties. After placing flowers in a beautiful clear vase, the emphasis goes to the flowers and the form of the vase, not on any color or motif.

 

And when it comes to clear, Lucite furniture, Hollywood Regency, in all of its glory, springs easily to mind. There has also been a recent Lucite renaissance, which began with the chair seen around the world: Philippe Starck's ingenious Louis Ghost Chair that was introduced in 2002.

 

The charming bunny mold from England, in the photo above right, is one of many culinary molds that have been made for hundreds of years from such materials as cream ware, copper and pewter ($23.50; Booth B-225).  The French were leaders in this niche, creating ornate molds for such items as sugar baskets used by Princesse de Lamballe, a dear friend of Marie Antoinette. Lamballe used sugar baskets to serve bonbons to her guests during supper.

 

Many lovers of culinary history -- or all things Victorian -- naturally assume that molds were used for making "jellies" for sumptuous tables during the Victorian era. In fact, this is a generalization. While gelatin desserts fashioned from molds were indeed popular among well-to-do Victorians, there was a wide range of foodstuffs formed by molds, including nougats, ice cream and butter.

 

Ah, resin grapes … where to begin? No stylish home of the 1960s was without a set. Such grapes, like the ones seen in the photo, left, were usually attached in some way to a natural piece of driftwood or oak ($29; Booth B-125).  Even Laura Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore) on the “Dick Van Dyke Show” had a set (watchEpisode 3,Season One from 1961; they are on a kitchen shelf). These were also popular in the Mormon community of that era, in which crafters made them by hand.

 

This stunning cocktail set in the photo, right, features six glasses with silver ombrétops and a glass ice pitcher done in the same fashion (includes a stirrer; $65; B-318). While unmarked, these are made by the Mid-Century Modern designer Dorothy Thorpe. She is best known for a classic style of glassware she developed with stark silver and platinum bands applied by hand at the rim. This design can be seen on the television show “Mad Men”; the lead character, Don Draper, often sips his cocktails from such a glass, called a Roly Poly, which had a one-inch silver band. These silver ombré glasses are a variation of that design.

 

The fabulous crane lamp in the photo, left, is from the 1960s ($135, S-104). It has a black shade, a porcelain crane, and, most delightfully, a thermoplastic base.  Such materials have been known by several name brands, including Plexiglas and Lucite. Transparent thermoplastic was developed as a lighter, shatter-resistant alternative to glass. It was developed in the late 1920s and marketed first by the firm Rohm and Haas Company in 1933 under the name Plexiglas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beauty of Lucite, or Plexiglass, is that it is strong but brings a sense of airiness to a room, as is seen with the glamorous bench in the photo, right ($95; Booth 206). The material was first used as war material in the 1940s, and was afterward discovered by the fashion industry for jewelry and handbags.

 

Clear tabletop items or furniture are fabulous choices for creating the look of visual lightness in a room. Bring some into your home today for some extra sparkle and light.

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