Home: Collecting Colored Glass


Collecting Colored Glass

It’s February in Sonoma and the temperatures are considerably more forgiving than many other regions in the country.  Having lived in the Northwest, Midwest, and East coast, I can attest to the relative mildness of Sonoma’s winters.  Just today I swam in a local outdoor pool, while on the East coast a major storm recently hit dumping loads of snow on cars, buildings, and people.  Still, the long nights and cold weather can cause some people to feel down.  (See link for more info. on Seasonal Affective Disorder)  One local resident referred to the winter lull as being “sun starved.”  Perhaps the best remedy for the “Februaries” is to sit in the sun in a meadow of flowers.  But if it’s still too cold or wet or just too early for the mustard to bloom, we Californians can take a tip from the hardy people on the East coast and bring color into our world through collecting glass.



Several years ago my friend and co-editor Rachel visited Boston, and brought me back colored glass which she said was a popular collector’s item on the East coast.  When I moved there, I decided to start my own collection.  On weekend outings I found vases and cups and other vessels that I would place in my apartment window to brighten up my day, and improve the urban view.  Piece by piece my collection grew, as I began looking in antique stores in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, etc.  As I moved across the country I picked up pieces in Ohio, and moving west to California I continued visiting yard sales on occasion.



Although there are many antique collectors who can help you select quality sets (using identifying marks, glass quality, and hue to help you choose the most valuable pieces), collecting single pieces of colored glass does not need to be complicated or expensive.  My own collection includes a rainbow of colors including hand-blown pieces from Colonial Williamsburg and old medicine bottles dug up from both coasts, mixed in with manufactured items from Ikea and yard sale treasures.  The key is to recognize what you like.  Are you drawn to certain colors—like the deep cobalt blues or fiery reds, or do you prefer a fresh mint green or a mild peach?  Look at the shape—do its curves and edges please your eye?  Could you meditate on the shape and feel a certain sense of completion?  Are there floral details, etchings, or embossing that intrigue you?  Find what pleases you, consider its place in your collection, and if the price suits you, buy it.

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Recently, I visited Llano House Antiques, in Sebastopol California.  Located off Highway 116 (along Sebastopol’s Antique Row), at the intersection of Llano road and Highway 116, you will find two red-hewn buildings where Mr. and Mrs. Ernie Haskell have been selling antiques in one of the oldest buildings in Sonoma County since 1987.  On occasion, I have driven by and seen the colored glass bottles in the window, and upon finally venturing in this weekend, I was not disappointed!  Llano House offers one of the very best collections of colored glass I have ever seen in Sonoma County.  As fellow one-time residents of Maryland, the Haskells took glass collecting to heart and still travel east for specimens. They have beautiful sets of Depression glass, a great range of colors and shapes, many useful kitchen pieces, and even florescent glass.  Among the glass and chairs and old metal coin-banks shaped like animals, you will also find the great stone fireplace in the middle of the room roaring away, reminding you that this building is of another era.  It was such a pleasant place, filled with treasures of the past, that I look forward to visiting again.


I was delighted to bring home a small peach colored dessert cup with delicate petal-like curves which I am enjoying in my kitchen window, until I decide to put it to work holding beads or perhaps a light snack of yogurt and fruit.  When not otherwise in use, consider displaying your colored glass in your window, like movable stained glass.  (Although, if you have pets you may want to install a picture window to minimize breakage.)  Arranging and displaying your glass in the sun can brighten your home and your mood…even in late winter.


by Nadja Masura