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A guide to Chance glassware
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Handkerchief Vases

The Handkerchief Vase was a popular icon from the late 1950s right into the 1980s and were produced as a more cost-effective alternative to the handkerchief (fazzoletto) vases made on Murano and popularised by Venini in the 1950s.

Chance first produced the Handkerchief vase in 1957 and the first models were the Intaglio design. Due to the cheap 'sheet glass' method of production (until about 1960, thereafter 'float' glass was used), this allowed Chance to produce later Fiestaware with a large variety of screen printed designs in vast numbers. Handkerchief vases can be considered an entire subset from this collectable range.

Sources: the Smethwick Heritage Centre
Book: 20th Century Factory Glass, Lesley Jackson

 

About...

These vases proved very popular and new designs were still being introduced as late as 1977, with the introduction of 'Gingham'. Handkerchief vases were first produced in the late 1950s and were still being made when the factory closed: a period of well over 20 years, but the tradition still continued under Fiesta Glass who introduced the 'Wide Band' model.

Due to their popularity there are many common designs and colours around, but it is possible to pick up the lesser known ones; click the 'Gallery' link and see some of the rarer Chance models around.

How were they made?

The vases were created by firstly cutting a square section (8" square for a 4" vase, 12" for a 7" vase) from a sheet of glass while still pliable and once cool the transfer or silk-screen printing was applied.

The 7" vases were placed onto a former with a top diameter of 3½" (9cm) and shaped sides and the glass was reheated to 700°C where it would once again become pliable. A worker would use a willow stick to push the sides into the former and create the very identifiable shape.

With the 4" vases, the process was 'unaided', meaning there was no manual interaction and consequently were much quicker and cheaper to make. The section of glass was placed centrally onto a circular former with shaped sides and the glass would form the shape naturally. For the 4" vases, the top of the former was about 2" (5cm) diameter.

As the screen-printing was applied prior to forming, this had the double advantage of heat-fixing the transfer.

 

Chance 4" white/grey 'Gingham' handkerchief vase

 

An example of the rare Chance white 'Intaglio'.
Photo © Emmi Smith

 

The ever-popular 'Psychedelic' or 'Pop-Art' vase

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