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January 2016 Newsletter

Featured Item: The Acorn Lamp         Article: Japanese Symbols

The Holidays are over and another year has whizzed by. Happy New Year!
Wishing all of you the very best for 2016. I am ready for a great year!
The new Shades of Tiffany website is finally published to great reviews.
It took lots of work with a big learning curve as websites do but it turned
out fantastic! - well worth taking a look through.
After a brief interlude, the monthly newsletters, which I enjoy writing
and you enjoy reading, will be published again starting with this January's
feature, The Acorn Lamp. The acorn motif is derived from Japanese
symbolism. For more info click to the Article section and learn about
Japanese symbols and their meanings. Very interesting.
Lorena Calcagni


The Acorn shade is a favorite of ours
to reproduce. Our current shade
(pictured) has an iridized white brick
background. The acorns are in clear
peach glass within a clear iridized
band and there are three bands of
purple glass. The overall effect is a
tailored lamp in rainbow pastels.
The Acorn shade sits upon a Tiffany
style Ribbed base. The metal base,
with its clean lines and finish in
antique brass, nicely compliments the
geometric shade.

We can also create an Acorn shade with a more powerful presence choosing deeper colors. For example, use opaque rust for the acorns and fill in their caps with a dark color. The brick background can be in the classic honey green covering the entire shade including all the bands (shown in the Article section below). The deceptively simple design of the Acorn offers unlimited color combinations with each shade being unique.

16" W x 23" T incl. table base


History of Tiffany's Acorn Lamp

In the 1890’s, before the debut of their more famous floral designs of the early 1900’s, Tiffany Studios produced simple, basic geometric patterned lamps. They were inspired by Moorish, Roman and Greek designs, greatly admired by Tiffany during his travels to those popular destinations.

About 1904 there was a gradual inclusion of natural motifs decorating Tiffany’s geometric shades. For the first time we see a pattern evolve. It emerges from plant form and becomes the Acorn shade. Now horizontal and vertical rows of quadrangular glass pieces are interrupted by a band of stylized acorns. They are connected by an undulating stem and are artfully arranged in an alternating up-and-down sequence.

The Acorn pattern was taken from a Japanese motif and characteristic of the Japanese culture has symbolic meaning. See Japanese symbols, History section (below). Their concept of art and design, newly discovered by Western artists in the 1870’s, greatly influenced the Arts and Crafts movement which abhorred the overly embellished Victorian style of the day. The Zen simplicity of the earth toned Acorn lamp is an exemplary, decorative item for the typical Craftsman home.  

Because its comparatively simple design was economical to produce, the Acorn achieved great popularity and was turned out in scores of sizes and shapes. During the 1970’s an authentic Tiffany Acorn table lamp was valued at $3,000. Today they auction from $30,000 and up.

The Tiffany Studios produced more shades in the multiple geometric category than in any other. That accounts for the fact that more of these are still in existence today.

Japanese Motifs and Their Meanings

Paying homage to the elements of nature has always been an integral part of Japanese culture. Their belief in the literal as well as the figurative power of images as they relate to the seasons, divine protection, virtues or occasions are represented through the use of symbols and decorative motifs that are entwined within their daily lives. For a better understanding and appreciation of the symbolic aspects of Japanese culture, here are a few motifs and their meanings.

Acorn is an emblem of good luck. The proverb “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow” reflects on the potential within people. In ancient Japan acorns high in calcium, phosphorus, protein, potassium and niacin were an important food that was harvested, processed and made into acorn cakes.

Sun the iconic Japanese symbol is derived from the mythological goddess of the sun. Amaterasu, according to myth, dropped little islands from the sky into the sea and founded Japan approximately 2,700 years ago. All the emperors of Japan are known as “Sons of the Sun “; essentially direct descendants of the goddess herself. As the sun rises first over Japan before other countries, this reflects its origin of importance in Japanese tradition. The design of the national flag is a red sun set against a white background.

Lotus a symbol of purity, the lotus is revered in Japan for its ability to rise from dirty muddy waters to bloom into a beautiful flower. Associated with Buddhist achievement of enlightenment, the lotus is a symbol of living your life to the fullest.

Fan signifies a high social status. With many of them beautifully hand painted they represent affordable luxury. The blades symbolize the many paths possible in life’s journey.

Chrysanthemum is used as an Imperial emblem for official Japanese seals. It is a symbol of endurance and rejuvenation derived from the plant’s medicinal properties and even today extracts of chrysanthemum are used in Asian herbal medicine. It honors the cover of the Japanese passport.

Crane represents longevity and good fortune. Cranes are produced most often in the art of origami, Japanese paper folding, where to fold one thousand paper cranes makes a special wish come true. Their symbol is associated with good wishes for the Japanese New Year and decorations for wedding ceremonies.

Plum Flower is a symbol of refinement and purity. It is a motif favored on winter kimono. It is the first tree to blossom, emitting its strong sweet fragrance, and suggests that spring cannot be far away.

Koi succeed in swimming up mighty streams and became a symbol of aspiration and perseverance in ancient Japan for the children who survived to five years of age. Today Japan holds celebrations every March 3rd for girls and May 5th for boys. Colorful flying koi kites decorate the festivities. Images of koi are often found on young boys’ kimono, as virtues of a determined warrior.

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