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Cameo Crystal Glass

Glassmaking craft’s one of the finest and most skilled example is cameo glass. Cameo glass is a multilayered glass that is decorated with figures and forms carved through the layer so that it stands out in relief from the surface and the colored layers form the contrast of the picture. Such glassware is manufactured by blowing two or more layers of glass together. The expression cameo applies to any carving in the picture in which the picture is raised above the surrounding surface.

Cameo glassAjka Crystal’s cameo products are all made of 24% lead crystal. The base color is a thin layer of crystal on the inside of the product and is in most cases either clear or opalescent. The outer layers which have to be carved are on the outside. The high quality crystal must provide strength for the article and since it takes the color of other crystal layers in contact with it, a huge variety of colors can be achieved. There are two main method to case glass: the gathering method and the cupping method. The first method includes putting glass of one color in a gather with the blowing iron and then adding glass of another color from an other pot to coat or encase the glass in the first gather. The second method involves making an open cup and blowing glass into it of another color with the blowing iron. Mostly both methods are used to create the blanks needed for the cameo products. If the blanks are ready the relieves in the glass have to be formed. There are three common techniques to remove unwanted glass for the cameo crystal piece: either with hand cutting tools or the engraving wheel or hydrofluoric acid. The first method is a very time consuming process demanding special skills to be able to utilize those small cutting tools in an exact and delicate way. The engraving wheel offers a quicker solution and it is used extensively by cameo glass producers. It is used most often in combination with the other two methods. Hydrofluoric acid has an excellent characteristic that it erodes glass, so it can be used for removing certain unwanted parts or layers.
Cameo glassThose parts that are wished to be saved are handled with a special type of wax that is resistant to hydrofluoric acid. The depth of the acid cutting in the glass can be modified by changing the strength of the acid. The cameo glass maker using the combination of the techniques described above must cut away the surface of the glass to reveal the proper color and the expected design. Usually the engraving wheel follows the acid cutback process and then the surface of the glass is polished thoroughly. With the number of crystal layers increasing and with more cutting work displayed the production gets more and more complex and difficult. As the designs displayed on the cameo glass pieces of Ajka Crystal is rather complex, they are mostly sculptured with hand tools which need the greatest skills from the three techniques. What is brand new in Ajka Crystal’s technology is that the craftsman use high pressure sand to blow away the unwanted layers.
The Romans
Cameo glassSome of the finest examples for cameo are carvings on delicate pieces of Art glass. The Romans developed the technique to imitate carved scenes on semiprecious stones. They managed to create awesome pieces that date back to Augustan and Julio-Claudian periods from 27 BC to 68 AD. It is not yet known how the Roman glassworkers – often referred to as vitriarius – could manufacture cased glass blanks essential for the cameo glassworks. Probably they applied one of the techniques described above. The task of the cutter or engraver – diatretarii – is better researched by the historians. The cutting, grinding, faceting, carving and polishing glass was practiced in antiquity using various tools. Most probably th engraving wheel was known to the Roman craftsmen. Even though the technical level achieved by the Romans cannot be compared to modern manufacturing technology, their result are remarkable. The most famous cameo glass piece is the Portland Vase. A cobalt blue colored piece of art with intricate cameo decoration and vivid relief. The vase was probably manufactured around the first century BC. In 1783 the famous Duchess of Portland bought it and in a short period of time made the vase extremely popular.
Cameo glass around the turn of the XXth century
Cameo glassThe revival of cameo glass can be dated in the 1876 and can be described by the workmanship of Benjamin Richardson, John and Joseph Northwood, who were the first to develop the art of carving away the unwanted glass layers to produce the images in relief, and their apprentices George and Thomas Woodall, Joseph Locke. Public demand for cameo glass grew tenfold and the technique was spread throughout France, Bohemia and the United States. Emile Galle is one of the most well known from the glass artists of his age. He was not only a dominant artist, craftsman in the Art Nouveau period but he made also a great teacher and director. Number of new techniques of glass decoration were developed by Galle, who signed his pieces with „GR” or Galle and Reinemer. Actually it was a rarity to find signatures on glass before Galle made it popular. He introduced his first cameo glass piece in 1889 at the Paris exhibition that made him world-known among glass manufacturers. His product met vivid demand from well off collectors and enjoyed great popularity until his death that followed in 1904. After his death unfortunately the quality of glass produced under his name slowly deteriorated and its reputation dropped. Still even today he is regarded te best and even if there we other glassmakers who were producing very good quality glass Emile Galle is respected as the master. The Daum brothers demonstrated high skills in acid-cut work with enamel and gold decoration.
Cameo glassTheir products were very popular and widely demanded. The Daums developed some unique techniques of their own but in their pieces of art the influence of Galle and other manufacturers is also reflected. The products of Daum are usually signed with „Daum”, „France”, „Nancy” or the cross of Lorraine. Other famous art glass manufacturers included Schneider, Muller, Kosta, DeVez, Mont Joye, Meisenthal, Vallerysthal, D’Argental. Baccarat, Delatte, Saint Louis who contributed to the success of French style cameo glass during the 1890’s and early 1900’s.
Cameo glassCameo glass products are among the best collectible art pieces that one can still easily afford. There are however only very few companies who produce handcrafted cameo glass today. The high quality that is an important characteristic of Ajka Crystal products includes lots of working hours, skills and superior glass manufacturing technology. These pieces of art may seem costly but if you take some antique cameo pieces of a century ago, their price will be around ten thousands of dollars each. One should look out and beware of cheap machine engraved products as the real value of cameo glass lies in its complex manufacturing process that needs skills, time and passion for glass and art. These pieces of a lost art were treasured once by Roman emperors and now they can be a part of your art glass collection.
To see our collection of finest quality cameo crystal or to make a purchase, please enter our online store and click here ».
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available in
azzuro light blue
cobalt blue
Bergitte Vase
Three layered lead crystal vase with an opaque crystal base and a light blue and coblat blue crystal floral pattern in relief. The crystal vase vase cut with great attention to the details. This finest piece of homedecor is a represantative of the cameo art glass. Handblown at Ajka Crystal Ltd.
Retail Price:$213.90
OUT OF STOCK - Wholesale orders only (min. 100 pieces)
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available in
cobalt blue
emerald green
Dagmar Vase
Three layered lead crystal vase with an opaque crystal base and a cobalt blue and emerald green crystal animal pattern in relief. The cranes scupltured on the vase lend this fine piece of cameo glass art a bit of an oriental influence. Dagmar vase complements Melicente and Millicente vases perfectly.
Retail Price:$262.70
OUT OF STOCK - Wholesale orders only (min. 100 pieces)
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available in
emerald green
azzuro light blue
Gelsomina Bowl
Three layered lead crystal bowl with emerald green crystal base and a light blue and opaque crystal non-figurative pattern in relief. Gelsomina bowl has the same style as Else bowl, the pattern however
Retail Price:$2,394.70
OUT OF STOCK - Wholesale orders only (min. 100 pieces)
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available in
gold amber yellow
dark ruby red
Saffi Vase
Three layered lead crystal bowl with a clear crystal base and gold amber and dark ruby red colored giraffe pattern in relief. The animal figures pattern carved in relief against the clear crystal background mirror high handcrafting skills and an extreme amount of labour. Finest cameo crystal glass. Saffi is member of the Savannah Series.
Retail Price:$326.80
OUT OF STOCK - Wholesale orders only (min. 100 pieces)
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available in
Sorina Vase
Three layered lead crystal bowl with a clear crystal base and white and black colored swallow pattern in relief. The bird desings make this vase a distinct piece of homedecor. A highly collectible and very prized cameo crystal glass vase.
Retail Price:$211.70
OUT OF STOCK - Wholesale orders only (min. 100 pieces)
To get more general information on the description of crystal glass stem-, foot- and bowl types, please click here »
To see other types of crystal stem and barware from Ajka Crystal’s collection, please click here »
To see our collection of finest quality crystals or to make a purchase, please enter our online store and click here ».

Special Offers!

Are you a great friend of top quality crystal products but also good bargains? Keep an eye on this section, we have three of the most popular pieces on sale every month!
Arian Crystal Votive
FREE GIFT with every order! Place your order before November 18 and get this votive holder for free!
Let the Sun shine in your room through this gold amber colored sparkling crystal votive holder. Day or night, the golden glow will fill your heart with joy.
Price: $89.95
Arian Crystal Votive

Price: $89.95

FREE GIFT with every order! Place your order before November 18 and get this votive holder for free!

Lorenza Crystal Votive Holder
FREE GIFT with every order! Place your order before November 18 and get this votive holder for free!
This piece of genuine lead crystal glass art with an elegantly simple pattern will help you create a festive an homey atmosphere. With or without a candle inside, it is a pleasure to look at!
Price: $89.95
Lorenza Crystal Votive Holder

Price: $89.95

FREE GIFT with every order! Place your order before November 18 and get this votive holder for free!


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