Glass Sulphides

Glass Sulphides and
Glass SulphidesCameo Incrustations:
Glass Sulphidesfrom the
Glass SulphidesGlass Encyclopedia


Glass sulphide paperweight
above: Sulphide
paperweight made 1955
by Baccarat



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Apsley Pellatt sulphides
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Apsley Pellatt Glass
Glass Sulphides and Cameo Incrustations: A short explanation:

Glass sulphides, also called Cameo Incrustations, are opaque, usually white, medallians or figurines encased in glass and used to decorate clear glass objects. They often appear on the sides of decanters, jugs, bottles and tumblers, and they are a very popular form of paperweight decoration, as in the 1955 paperweight by Baccarat (France) with a sulphide bust of Lafayette, shown left.

The name sulphide comes from the use of sulphur in the process of manufacturing sulphides in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The sulphide itself is usually made from a clay (or ceramic) and glass paste and is completely encased in glass.

The early 19th century patents (Apsley Pellatt in 1819 in England and Pierre Honore Boudon de Saint-Amans in 1818 in France) involved opening up a blown glass bulb while it was still molten, and placing the sulphide inside, then sealing up the opening (by pinching together the molten glass) and sucking out the air to draw the glass and the sulphide together.

Sulphides encased in glass were made in France by the procelain designer Desprez and his son during the 1790s; also by Henri-Germain Boileau at least as early as 1796. James Tassie, in England, made cameo sulphides from the 1760s onwards, but these were primarily used to decorate jewellery or as surface decorations on pottery or glass, rather than glass-encased. They were, nevertheless, made from ceramic and glass paste.

Very crude clay models encased in glass were reported to have been made in Bohemia at even earlier dates, but it seems that none of these have survived. Glass encased cameos were also made in the USA by Pairpoint Glass and possibly by the New England Glass Company in the 19th century.

Whatever the origins of sulphides, there can be little doubt that the most famous and successful producers of sulpides were Apsley Pellat in England from 1819 to the mid-century, and Baccarat in France from around the mid-1840s to the present day. Very beautiful sulphides were also made by John Ford and Company in Scotland in the late 19th century, and by the Clichy glassworks and the St Louis glassworks in France.

Sulphides are sometimes called "Cameo Incrustations" or "Cameo Encrustations" and Apsley Pellatt originally called them "Crystallo-Ceramie". Their popularity as a luxury item was harmed when cheap imitations were made in which the design was pressed into a glass object, leaving an intaglio impression which was then filled with plaster of paris and glued onto the surface of the glass vessel.

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Colored sulphides enclosed in glass marbles are popular today, and have been made by several artists in the USA including Charles Gibson, Joe Rice, Harry Boyer, and the Blue Flame studio.

If you are looking for sulphides in glass, you can usually find items on offer on ebay - click here to see the glass sulphide listings currently for sale on ebay.


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