Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Geeking out.

It turns out the only kids' educational TV stations we get down here are local PBS affiliates. And so we've been watching local PBS. Local PBS advertises, and so, the other night, I happened upon an ad for the Morse Museum.

Decorative arts. Louis Comfort Tiffany. Arts and Crafts exhibit. The Tiffany Chapel from the Columbian Exhibition of 1893. (First thought: What in hell was it doing in central Florida??) I mentioned this to my father-in-law, who is equally geeky on the decorative arts (for him it's cut glass and Frank Lloyd Wright), and nothing would do but to check it out.

So we did. Today.

We were in the museum about two hours, maybe three. We wandered every gallery they had. We saw Tiffany glass of all kinds:

We saw quite a cool little bit on how the lamps were made - on wooden forms, with little tacks to hold the glass bits in place as they were soldered together.

Wood form on the far left, finished shade in center, an assembled lamp on the right. (I wonder what it took to gather together three similar pieces, and if the in-progress job is a recreation. I can't see how it could be anything else.)

Turns out Tiffany also did floor mosaics. Here's one I snapped with the idea of knitting a copy, but I'm not sure you could knit something like that without looking like you were wearing a circus tent. But I'm thinking about the how.

...why no, they don't allow photography. That's why there are so few photos. There were Docents everywhere and I kept waiting for one to jump me. But I didn't use a flash, so I got fairly true color (good lighting in the place), but some of the images are a little blurry.

And then, we got to the chapel.

It was nice enough, but I've been in a hell of a lot (ha) of churches, chapels, synagogues, mosques, temples, and shrines in my day, so I fear the great and vast significance of it all was lost on me. (Plus the pagan symbolism was cracking me up.) I sorta stood there, nodded, went 'Yup. Tiffany does Byzantine.' and wandered off to look at the Rookwood Pottery. (Rookwood was made in Ohio, and can still be found at garage sales if you know what you're looking for, near where I grew up. Plus it's cool.)

The first photo was taken under the main chandelier, looking up. I'm really pissed I couldn't center it, but the way the walls were laid, if I moved to the proper spot, a Docent would spot me. As it was, by then, I was getting the Fishy Eye from all of them. (They chilled a lot after I went and blew almost sixty bucks on books at the museum gift shop.)

Anyway, turns out all this cool swag is in Florida - Winter Park, Florida - for a convoluted but sort of simple reason. One of Tiffany's students was the head of the art department of the university/college at Winter Park. And who should reside in Winter Park, but the granddaughter of a zillionaire industrialist capitalist robber-baron boogerhead from the 1800s. So his connections, her money, and away they went. That's how they wound up with the chapel - Tiffany's daughter asked them to take it.

So, a good, interesting day in a place that wasn't kid-friendly. (While Grandma the saint watched the Goober.)

Now I have the urge to knit something.


Alwen said...

*sigh* Lucky thing!

Better on display in the Morse than sealed off by Ralph Adams Cram.

Galad said...

I'm so jealous. What a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours. Thanks for sneaking some pics for us@

Amy Lane said...

Dude--amazing stuff! (And I've been to Winterthur in Delaware... same folks!)

Kitsune said...

When my mom made her Tiffany repro lamp, the form she got was made of plaster instead of wood. She had to do it in three sections, because the one she did curled under a bit at the bottom rim, so if she'd put it all together it wouldn't have come off the form. :)

Rose Red said...

I love the Tiffany stuff. We saw a lot at the Met in NY and it was fabulous.

Jeanne said...

This is a wonderfully fantastic museum - I was there several years ago, and was just stunned at the lamps, chapel, etc.

Want to go back. The Orlando Art Museum had a Chiluly exhibit at the same time - which was also interesting, and an odd juxtaposition.

And have you been to the botanical gardens with the Camillas? Leu? Lew? Sorry, can't remember, but it was a neat place to go.

Louiz said...

Wow, looks great. I love decorative stuff like that.

Donna Lee said...

Tiffany did a mural with Maxfield Parish which hangs in a bldg in Philadelphia. (

It's amazingly beautiful and free to the public. The city almost lost it a few years ago but local outcry held it in place. It's right around the corner from where I work and I visit it when I can. It's breathtakingly lovely.

Roxie said...

And your FIL wanted to go, too. How cool is that? Thanks for sharing the photos. They really are neat!

Elements of the mosaic - don't do the whole thing. Just use elements.

Mandy said...

I love Tiffany - I too remember fondly seeing a lot of it at the Met when I was in college.

I think the only way to do the floor mosaic would be as a wrap or scarf of some sort, or a throw. You're right that it would otherwise be too much to wear comfortably.