Friday, March 4, 2011

Designer of the Month: Frederick Carder

Hi guys! It's March, and Designer of the Month is back! In January, we looked at the art of contemporary sculptor Robert Smithson, so this month, I thought it might be a nice change of pace to visit the early 20th century, with March's Designer of the Month is none other than designer and glassmaker Frederick Carder (1863-1963).

Frederick Carder. Courtesy of Steuben.

From his beginnings with glass when he worked at Stevens & Williams to the Steuben Glass Works in Corning, New York, Frederick Carder has always been seen as a man of great vision. Born in 1863 in Brockmoor, Straffordshire, England to a family of potters, Carder got his start in glass at the age of 17 when John Northwood, who was to become his mentor and partner, recommended him for a position of designer at the glassmaking firm Stevens and Williams.[1] While at the time, Stevens & Williams was primarily making colorless cut crystal tableware that Carder deemed to be “the quintessence of vulgarity,” Carder managed to convince the factory supervisor to produce some of his own designs in colored glass, which ended up selling very well, and which earned him many prizes in competitions over the twenty or so years of his work in England.[2] In 1902, the local government sent Carder on a fact-finding tour to glassmaking centers in Germany and Austria, a trip that was so successful that Carder was then sent to America in 1903 for a similar purpose.[3] While in Corning, New York, Carder met with Thomas G. Hawkes, the president of a glass engraving firm, and began an agreement with him to start the Steuben Glass Works in Corning that same year.[4] It was at Steuben that Carder was fully able to fully experiment with glass, creating many of the pieces he is now famous for. 

Frederick Carder and Steuben Glass Works, Rouge Flambé Vase, ca. 1916. Collection of The Corning Museum of Glass, Gift of Tim and Paddy Welles (2005.4.5). Courtesy of The Corning Museum of Glass, New York.

Isn't that an incredible vase? Rouge Flambé was one of the most difficult colors for Carder to make, and the above vase, decorated with Blue Aurene leaves, from the collection at The Corning Museum of Glass, is one of only three known.[5] But before we can get to America and pieces like this, we have to go back to Carder's beginnings in England, to where his interest in glass first began, following his rise to fame from there. Thiss month, we'll be looking at Carder's time at Stevens & Williams in week 2, followed by the Steuben Glass Works in week 3, and finishing up the month with the Corning Glass Works in week 4.

[1] Mary Jean Smith Madigan, Steuben Glass: An American Tradition in Crystal (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1982), 51.

[2] Ibid., 51-2.

[3] Ibid., 52.

[4] Ibid., 52.

[5] Jane Shadel Spillman, "Rouge Flambé Vase," The Corning Museum of Glass online,, (Accessed March 3, 2011).

1 comment:

  1. Great blog post! We're always excited to see people enthusiastic about Frederick Carder's work :)


Thanks for your comments - they mean the world to me!