Serendipitous Artistry

I love reading a good book and then noticing how things in my life crop up that I would have otherwise not appreciated.

I just finished reading Clara and Mr. Tiffany. I fully recommend it to anyone who considers themselves an artist in any sense of the word. It is a fiction novel based on historical facts.

The book , by Susan Vreeland, is about the life of Clara Driscoll, an employee of Louis Comfort Tiffany and the artist who is (now) credited with designing the famous Tiffany lampshades of the early 20th century. The story is filled with meticulous description of the glassblowing, glass-choosing, glass-cutting and glass application processes. As someone who has always wanted to try glassblowing, I found the details quite enchanting.

The book also wades through weighty issues such as the conflicts of artist collaboration, sexism in the professional arts, vocation versus marriage and sacrificing art for the sake of commercial means. Any artist will be able to identity with the creative process and ethical decisions Clara is forced to withstand.

While this book has still been lingering in my mind, I came across this cake design.

It is undoubtedly inspired by the Tiffany lamps.

Clara Driscoll

I love that the ideas of one woman has inspired other artists for over a century. And not only artists in glasswork, like herself, but bakers and writers. Even more so, that she did it all for the sake of art, not the glory.

(Actually, Clara and her 30 “Tiffany Girls” brought the lamps to fruition. And they couldn’t have done it without the male glassblowing and lead welding departments either. The true meaning of artistic collaboration.)

You see, it was only discovered that Clara was the actual designer of the lamps, not Louis Comfort Tiffany, in 2007.

Martin Eidelberg, an Art History Professor at Rutgers University recently came across a large amount of letters from Clara to her family and has been credited with making the discovery.

And while today Tiffany lampshades are not a completely unusual, albeit lovely, sight they were an unheard of in their infancy.

images via

I have always striven to fix beauty
in wood, stone, glass or pottery,
in oil or watercolor
by using whatever seemed
fittest for the expression
of beauty,
that has been my creed.

– Louis Comfort Tiffany