There’s just something so elegant and sophisticated about a beautiful piece of glassware.
When it ceases to look like glass because of a unique visual texture (it isn’t completely invisible or see-through) or because it isn’t the “clear” glass color we have all come to expect, well, you have a real showstopper on your hands. At a minimum, you can bet that someone will notice it and oftentimes even comment on its unique appearance.
This fascination with glass as a material is nothing new. In fact, one such type of glass – opaque glass, or milk glass – has been around for hundreds (and possibly thousands) of years.
Opaque glass is, by its very definition, not transparent or translucent and indeed, its milky appearance is what led to the adoption of its popular moniker ‘milk glass.’
Although the term ‘milk glass’ was not introduced until the 20th century, pieces of opaque glass date back at least to 16th century Egypt and may even have originated in China around the 2nd century.
And they are back in a big way: Milk glass as a design element is re-emerging in home décor circles and showing up in all sorts of unexpected ways! Here are a few ideas for pieces that might be perfect for you and some tips for getting started with a milk glass collection of your own.
Unique Pieces for your Individual Style
Milk glass embodies the fragile delicacy of glass paired with the much more substantial looking structure of ceramic or porcelain. Two of the ways that milk glass further differentiates itself from its glassy cousins are found in the myriad options of interesting shapes and breathtaking colors.
Footed dishes like the one above represent just how intricate the pieces of milk glass can be and because the glass itself is not transparent, the tiny little details really pop!
As you can see, milk glass isn’t just the color of milk! You can incorporate colorful contrast and overall aesthetic interest by mixing in pieces of milk glass in striking colors like this turquoise dish.
Whether you are looking for an assortment of completely distinct and individual pieces that are tied together simply because they are all milk glass or you crave a uniform collection of pieces that work best as a cohesive group, the bottom line is that you select components that speak to you and represent your style and personality.
Tips for Starting a Collection of your Own
Here are some of the most valuable resources for beginning your milk glass collection.
‘Repurposed Retail’ Outlets:
Start scouring every available resource for old pieces. You might be surprised what you can find in thrift shops, garage/yard sales, antique shops, consignment stores and online marketplaces.
Your Own Home:
Don’t forget about resources a little closer to home. Many a priceless piece from the past has been found in attics and basements, long forgotten and tucked away in cobwebby corners and under layers of dust and neglect in boxes and trunks.
Friends and Family:
If you have older relatives who have collections of their own, indicate your interest in keeping the tradition alive. For those with a true passion for collecting, nothing makes them happier than finding others who share the same appreciation for their treasured trove and they are often willing to ‘donate to the cause’ and help you begin your collection.
Alternatively, collections are one of the largest sentimental components of a person’s will and many collectors want to ensure their life’s work continues on to the next generation. Oftentimes, they themselves have been recipients of the antique pieces in their own collections and knowing of your intent to ‘keep them in the family’ can instill a sense of peace about what will happen to them.
Brand New Basics:
In general, when purchasing brand new pieces from retail outlets, stick to buying the milk glass pieces that represent your style. Because they do not have the historical value (yet) that are inherent in older pieces, you have more flexibility with tailoring your collection to suit you and your tastes.
Finally, if you are shopping in a specialty store, be sure to do your research before springing for an expensive piece based solely on the seller’s say so. One way to avoid buyer’s remorse or making an ill-informed purchase is to only patronize reputable sellers and consult with experienced collectors before embarking on your shopping trips.
What are some of the interesting pieces of milk glass that you are thinking of purchasing or would like to see in your collection?
This is a guest article
Shahab Shokouhi is a glass design expert at www.dullesglassandmirror.com, an innovative manufacturer of glass table tops, glass shelves, and all other glass and mirror products. Follow Dulles Glass and Mirror on Pinterest or on YouTube to see how they’re changing the way glass products are manufactured, customized and delivered.