Are Tiffany Lamps Back in Style?

Louis C. Tiffany was heavily inspired by the design and elaboration of Medieval stained glass windows to make his own colorful glass lamps.
Are Tiffany Lamps Back in Style?

Last update: 27 November, 2018

There are many decorative pieces that have come back in style in interior design. One example of such pieces first made waves two centuries ago: the Tiffany lampThese lamps are showstoppers thanks to their stained glass-style lampshade, which is often multicolored.

They’ve enjoyed popularity from day one on the market. But it didn’t last forever. They actually didn’t reach the height of their popularity until 1958. Later on in the 80s, they came back to decorate interiors.

From Favrile to Tiffany lamps

Louis Comfort, son of Charles Lewis Tiffany (the famous founder of Tiffany & Co.), was an artist and interior designer and decorator. Ever since his youth, his background in Fine Arts led him to become interested in glassmaking.

Though he became a successful businessman in the family business, he longed to work exclusively in glass art. He redirected his career to glass and founded his own business not long after, in 1885, creating his own name for himself: Tiffany Studios.

Tiffany Lamps Studio

Tiffany studied Medieval glassmaking meticulously, focusing especially on works in the 14th century.

After his studies, he innovated the glassmaking process, resulting in a total success; he integrated color into the glass melting process, which allowed him to create more colors and tones.

The technique was named “Favrile” and as the years went by, Tiffany decided to use the term to refer to the entire production of his company’s products: glass, varnishes, and ceramics.

Louis Comfort Tiffany became the epitome of Art Noveau.

Using light to illuminate art

Once electric light bulbs became commercial, Tiffany saw a huge opportunity. He realized that he could use the light from the lightbulbs to illuminate his works of art. From there, he started to think about creating a lamp with a stained glass lamp shade.

The light from a lightbulb could help users enjoy the beauty of the stained glass, even at night.

From 1895, he started to commercialized Tiffany lamps. The design consisted of a polished bronze base with a favrile lamp shade. The pieces of the lamp shape were carefully covered in a thin layer of copper. The lamps were welded together with lead; today, however, Tiffany lamps are welded with a mixture of tin and lead.

Tiffany lamps composition

It’s no surprise that the high-quality work of more than 300 artisans won the Tiffany lamps a place in history as beautiful decorative pieces. Consequently, original models were very expensive, and they still are. However, there are many imitation options available that are much more affordable.

Decorative use

Tiffany lamps are a prestigious decor element. Many people like to show them off in common areas such as entrances, living rooms, hallways, and even in kitchens.

During the 19th century, desk lamp models reached a milestone in decor for offices and sitting rooms. Standing lamp models were also very popular. Towards the end of the 50s, ceiling lamps became all the rage.

In the 80s, interior designers began to use Tiffany lamps again in their work. And today, though Tiffany lamps don’t quite dominate the market, they continue luring the eyes of many.

Make your own Tiffany lamp!

To enjoy a beautiful Tiffany lamp at home, you don’t have to shell out big money. You can make your own imitation Tiffany lamp by following a few easy steps. You’ll only need:

  • a toothpick
  • a paintbrush
  • alcohol
  • a piece of fabric
  • a permanent marker
  • a tube of liquid lead (for the outlines)
  • water-based glass paints
  • a glass lamp shade
Tiffany lamp lamp shade

The steps to back your lamp are simple. First, dampen the rag or piece of fabric with alcohol and clean the lamp shade. Next, trace out the design with the permanent marker.

Once the marker is completely dried, go over the pattern lines with the liquid lead. Don’t squeeze the tube too much or the resulting lines will be too thick.

Wait for the liquid lead to dry and if necessary, lightly remove some of it with the toothpick to make the lines thinner. Then, paint on the colors in each of the sections with the paintbrush. When you’re finished painting, let it dry and you’re done!