Thursday, April 12, 2012
Clara and Mr. Tiffany
Clara and Mr. Tiffany
by Susan Vreeland
I’ve always thought Tiffany lamps and his other glass pieces were gorgeous. I love the idea of blending art with functional pieces in your home. That’s the main reason I was interested in reading this.
We see the world of Louis Comfort Tiffany through the eyes of one of his top designers, Clara Driscoll. She struggles to find equal footing in a man’s world. Even though she’s a talented designer, she is never given the same credit or respect for her work. The unfair rules and regulations that women had to face in the work place back then were absurd. If a woman got married, she could no longer work at Tiffany Glass Studios. Tiffany didn’t want any married women working for him, because he thought they would no longer make their work a priority. The same standard was obviously not applied to his male workers.
I enjoyed learning more about Tiffany, his company, the strikes and battles women faced in the work force. I also loved the descriptions of New York City at the turn of the century. Unfortunately, Clara’s personal life fell a bit flat for me. It just seemed like she was always longing for something she couldn’t have and that seemed like such a waste.
She wanted to marry her best friend, but he was gay. She had an odd love/hate relationship with Tiffany and always seemed to desire his approval in a way that wasn’t quite related to only her work. Her obsession with Tiffany and talk of her lover’s jealousy of his attention was a little creepy. Her relationship with her fiancé added another odd aspect in the book. They seemed happy, then things took a really strange turn and everything changed.
The book was at its best when they were talking about the actual designs, incorporating their love of nature into their work and women’s rights in the work force. If those aspects interest you, then it’s definitely worth reading, but some of the other bits lost my interest.
“How easily a parent’s motive could be misconstrued by an injured child.”
p.s. One interesting tidbit, did you all know that Louis Comfort Tiffany, the creator of Tiffany Glass Studio, was the son of the man who created the famous jewelry company Tiffany & Co? I had no idea!
Photo from here.