Emigrants from Murano have spread knowledge of glass blowing around the world. Individuals from Murano contributed to the development of art glass in many countries, and have also created companies in the image of Murano companies, such as ICET in Venezuela and Seguso in Brazil. These companies produce very much Murano-style glass.
However, in post WWII Canada a group of Murano immigrants working for what was to become Chalet Glass started creating art glass quite different from the works they had produced back in Murano. The pieces were heavy, solid crystal in bold colours hot-worked to create long arms that twisted and curved. The designs were developed by the blowers themselves and were kept deliberately loose. Remarkably, this new form of glass became a huge success in Canada. Every new bride was certain to get a Chalet work, and soon the glass became synonymous with 60’s style in Canada with a piece on every coffee table or sideboard.
The company crashed in the energy crises of the 70’s with many of the workers heading back to Murano. The company then became a bit of mystery, as there was little in the way of documentary accounts of what it had produced, who had produced it, and how it could be identified. Discussion Boards in Canada often saw pleas posted from collectors for some historical record of Chalet to be created.
Finally, that book has arrived. The author, Deborah Patterson, had been collecting Chalet for less than a year when she was asked to organize an exhibition of Chalet for a regional art gallery in Cornwall, Ontario, where the Chalet factory had been located. That exhibition brought her in contact with many of the workers from Chalet, other collectors, and much more Chalet glass.
She then decided to publish a book on Chalet using the knowledge she had gained. I ordered it expecting the usual self-published book. When the book arrived, it was immediately clear that it set a new standard for self-publishing. It is well organized making it very useful as a reference book. It provides a clear and compact account of the history of Chalet, giving enough detail to give the reader some perspective but so much as to drown the reader in trivia. It also creates a clear sense of the personalities involved, the glass workers who traveled form Murano to make a new future for themselves. That alone adds to my appreciation of the work they produced. The book is also useful for teasing apart the different companies that operated at the time and whose work is often attributed to Chalet, companies like Lorraine, Chantilli, and EDAG.
Finally, a very competent professional photographer was hired to take the pictures of the glass, and those pictures are of a very high standard. The content of the book makes it a useful reference. The size, 11 1/2 “ wide by 8’ tall, and the quality of the photographs qualify it as a coffee table book. Occasionally, I would swap some of the big pictures for an increased number of smaller pictures, but that’s the collector in me. Like many art glass books, there is no index. While I would have preferred one, the lack of one isn’t a serious problem, as the book’s limited scope and clear organization reduce the need.
The book is likely to be the book on Chalet glass for some time, and should be of interest in anyone who collects Canadian glass or who is interested in Canadian artistic history. At $95.00, it is pricey, but, when you look at the book and read how it was produced, you see where the money has gone. I suspect that Deborah won’t be making money on this book, but by publishing it she has provided an invaluable resource on a uniquely Canadian company.
The book is available at www.chaletvintageartglass.com