Art glass normally means the modern art glass movement in which
individual artists working alone or with a few assistants to create works
from molten glass in relatively small furnaces of a few hundred pounds of
glass. Art glass began in the early 1960s and showed continued growth through
the end of the century. The glass objects created are not primarily utilitarian
but are intended to make a sculptural or decorative statement. On the market,
Art glass prices may range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars..
Prior to the early 1960s, art glass would have referred to glass made for
decorative use, usually by teams of factory workers, taking glass from furnaces
with a thousand or more pounds of glass. This form of art glass, of which
Tiffany and Steuben in the U.S.A., Gallé in France and Hoya Crystal
in Japan and Kosta Boda in Sweden are perhaps the best known, grew out of
the factory system in which all glass objects were hand or mold blown by teams
of 4 or more men.
In an art glass studio, ideally, "production work" (goblets, vases,
pitchers, art marbles etc.) shows more hand worked variation than was allowed
in pure factory work environment and each piece shows some of the lead glass
worker's creativity, the gaffer. In addition to smaller production pieces,
most studio glass workers also try to turn out larger individual Art glass
pieces which might be the equivalent of a master piece in the journeyman system
of guild and factory work.