The GPSA Gazette
monthly newsletter vol. 2 September 2002
Welcome! We hope you enjoy the second edition of the GPSA monthly newsletter, the GPSA Gazette.
We will attempt to publish informative and fun articles every month, with a focus on glass and pottery, for sellers and collectors alike!
Introduction to
Mercury Glass
by Diantiques
from the editor...
I'm very pleased with this, our second edition of the GPSA Gazette, but am even more proud of our members who give of their time and expertise to bring this newsletter to "life".

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  Although commonly known as "mercury" glass, the blown, double-walled items that were free-blown, blown-molded and silvered rarely contained mercury! Silvering formulas utilizing silver nitrate, solvents and elements to create viscosity were kept secret by glass manufacturers in Germany, England and America.

   The silvering of hollowed glass objects may have originiated in Germany, where simply fabricated articles were hand decorated in naive or folk taste, thus referred to as "bauernsilber" or roughly "farmer's silver." Other countries developed methods which created a more highly decorative article and patents were obtained for improved sealing that protected the silvering.

   Bohemian or German silvered glass is the focus of this article which includes photos of fine 19th century examples. Made of non-flint or non-lead soda lime glass, German pieces are very lightweight when compared to the heavier flint or lead glass articlaes made in England and America. Since most silvered or mercury glass was created from about 1850-1920 and have been wholly or partially made by hand, they can truly be called "antique."
MORE on "mercury glass...."
Mosaic bracelet courtesy of Connie Shew  2nd Chance China
While it's pretty unlikely that a bull has raged through your china cabinet, your treasures may have fallen victim to careless movers, "butter fingers", or those mysterious gremlins that are forever chipping our dishes and hiding our keys while we sleep. (These same gremlins are rumored to live in clothes dryers and keep extensive collections of odd socks!)

Well, the GPSA cannot help you with your odd sock situation - but we can offer hope for all of those lovely pieces of china that are no longer suitable for display or use:
Mosaic tiles!
Single Angry Bull seeks companion for long walks on beach and running through china shops!
The GPSA Mosaic Gallery
by Suze1970

If you are looking for tips, examples or just plain inspiration for your own mosaic tile projects please click here to view our Mosaic Gallery
Making Your Own Mosaic Tiles
by   Mbeex3
photo courtesy of suze1970
Controlling tile cuts with hand can be done!

Ceramic plates can offer quite a challenge when cutting them for use in mosaics.  The idea is to save the desirable pattern with very little waste.  Smashing the plate on the ground or hitting it with a hammer is not only unsafe, but will often yield many unusable pieces.  Although never an exact science, taking control of the situation will bring satisfying results and beautiful tiles.  The material, generally ceramic, china and porcelain, is unpredictable and unforgiving.  It will vary in density, and glazes will range in hardness.  Many glazes used today are extremely hard and very tough to cut.  Older, vintage or antique plates can be easier to cut, but not always.  Crazing and age can make them brittle. 

Mastering the art of hand cutting ceramic tile requires patience, planning, the right tools, and maybe a few Band-Aids.  We all know patience is a true virtue; planning will help you decide which part of the pattern you want to keep, yet can become less important as the material may dictate the final product (thwarting even the best of plans); which brings us to the tools.  An important thing to remember is to purchase good quality tools.  Other than safety glasses, there are two which I consider invaluable.  They are Tile Nippers and Tile Pliers.  Go for professional quality tools, which will last longer and make the job easier. 

Nippers should be made of steel to handle the hardest tiles, and should also be tungsten carbide tipped for a long lasting sharp edge. In fact, they will never need sharpening.  They should be offset for safety, and be able to cut round and irregular shapes.  Nice additional features are a return spring, cushioned grips, and a special stop to prevent complete closure of the jaws.  The stop will prevent tiles from shattering.  To use the nippers, keep in mind smaller nips or bites are always easier and will provide the most control.  Cut using the offset edge which keeps the tile free of the arms while allowing room for your fingers.  Decide where you want the cut to go, and angle the tip in that direction.  This is especially important when making the very first cut as you work your way to progressively smaller pieces.              
Tile pliers are actually "snappers" with a scoring wheel.  These are for straight cuts where over 1" of the material is being removed or snapped, and sometimes can even be used to make the first break.  If the material or glaze is extremely hard, first score the cut with the wheel.  You may need to make several passes to get a good score.  Then insert the piece between the anvil and the separator, and snap.  Professional pliers will be self-adjusting and should have a tungsten carbide cutting wheel.        

There is no absolute right or wrong way to cut plates.  With a little patience and practice, you will become comfortable handling the tools and will quickly find what works best for you.  The experience can be truly rewarding as you conquer the art of plate cutting, producing nicely cut tiles ready for any mosaic project, and maybe saving a few chipped or damaged antiques in the process!
If making the tiles yourself is not your cup of tea, but you would like to try your hand at creating a mosaic, you may purchase pre-cut tiles from most craft and art supply stores as well as beautiful and unique hand cut tiles on eBay.
Glass Misnomers:
Is it Stretch Glass?

by Wgpaul
Its a tall, thin vase that looks like it was stretched while the glass is hot. Is it Stretch Glass?

Many sellers and collectors unfamiliar with stretch glass would say yes. However, the answer to that question is no. It is not Stretch Glass. That leaves us with two dilemmas. What is Stretch Glass? And, what is the stretched looking vase called?

Lets start with the vase. Vases that look like they have been stretched or pulled while the glass was hot are called Swung Vases. The name comes from the method by which they were made. When the vase came off the mold, a worker would swing it back and forth to create the elongated look and flared rim. Each swung vase is slightly different due to the process of hand swinging each vase. In an interview with The National Cambridge Collectors, Inc., Richard Long, a former Cambridge Glass worker, reported that these types of glass were often made at night because the workers required extra space to swing the vase!
photo courtesy of
Wildflower Antiques

Collectors generally refer to all such vases as Swung Vases. However, it is important to note that some items really were stretched when they were made. Do you remember those elongated Coca-Cola bottles that were given as prizes at fairs and carnivals? Those bottles were made by reheating the glass and stretching the item. Some items that collectors call Swung Vases may actually have been made using a stretching process. In fact, you may see the phrase Stretched Vase in some older glass catalogs. To keep the nomenclature simple, collectors generally refer to all elongated vases as Swung Vases.

So, if all stretched looking vases are called Swung Vases, what is Stretch Glass? Stretch Glass is a type of iridescent glass. Stretch glass was made in a three step process:

1. A piece of glass was either blown or made in a mold

2. While the glass was still hot, the item was sprayed with metallic salts. This gave it an iridescent appearance.

3. The item was then worked in some way. For example, the rim may have been flared or crimped.

When the item cooled, the iridescent surface showed the evidence of having been stretched. The surface of Stretch Glass is often described as having an onion skin appearance. The marks left by the stretching and cooling process are also referred to as stretch marks.
Two swung vases that started out as exact copies.
photo courtesy of
Which of these items is Stretch Glass?
For more information:
photo courtesy of
Stretch glass plate courtesy of Diantiques
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Archived Issues
August 2002
Roseville & Catalina Repros
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