Reflected Light: Glass Christmas Tree Decorations.
It’s hard to imagine in this day and age – relentlessly dazzled as we are by powerful bulbs, strip-lighting and all the rest of it – that, only a century and a half ago, light was a highly-prized resource in the winter months. In those days one of the Christmas messages was the ‘advent’ of light – the light that shines in the darkness – symbolized by the brightly lit Christmas fir-tree standing in the dark parlour: a real ‘sensation’ for the eyes of both parents and their children. After 1830 every family wanted glass decorations for their Christmas trees, and German glass-blowers fell over themselves designing models able to catch, refract and reflect the light of Christmas tree candles with maximum effectiveness given the limited materials available (glass, silver paint and wire). With the help of silver, fine-spun glass floss and crushed glass splinters a whole variety of beautiful optical effects could be created. Another technique involved the ‘stamping’ of the surface of a glass ball with a variety of patterns, often of a complex nature, which then reflected the light all round the room.