Recently while studying Albert Christian Revi’s book Nineteenth Century Glass, It’s Genesis and Development I began reading about “Spun Glass“. We have all seen glass blowers making vases, animals, flowers, etc., but a dress! In 1713 physician and naturalist Rene-Antoine de Reaumur commented ‘”If they succeed in making glass threads as fine as those of spiders’ webs, they will have glass threads of which woven stuffs may be made.”‘ A treatise on glass by Rev. Dionysus Lardner in 1832 explained how glass could be spun into very long and minute threads with great velocity. This was followed by a full explanation of the process.
At the 1855 Univeral Exposition there was a life-size representation of a lion and a serphant made with glass fibers. It’s maker, Monsieur Lambourg, labored for thirty years to make the animal.
An 1879 Viennese newspaper account of “Glass Clothing” by Herman Frueauff states “‘ At Gudenfrei, the artist and glass-spinner, A Prengel of Vienna, has established his glass business, offering carpets, cuffs, collars, veils, etc., of glass. He not only spins, but also weaves glass before the eyes of the people. The otherwise brittle glass he changes into pliable threads and uses them for making good warm clothing.”‘
In 1893 according to information found on the Libbey Glass Company website, the company designed and made a dress and parasol of spun glass fabric for the actress Georgia Cayvan to wear onstage in the first act of the play The Wife”. Another dress of the same material was placed on view in the Libbey Exhibition Building at the World Columbia Exposition in 1893. The Infanta Eulalia of Spain was fascinated by the dress and the princess had a similar gown made for her before she returned to Spain. A photo of the dress is on the Libbey Glass Company website.