One look and for Frederick Carder, it was love at first sight. As a young man, Carder spotted a glass replica of the Portland Vase, the most famous piece of Roman cameo glass. After seeing the vase at an artist’s studio, Carder made glass his life’s passion. He was 16.
Carder later described that experience as being “struck with the possibilities of glass.” Those possibilities developed into several technical and artistic discoveries in glassmaking – one of them being the renowned Steuben Glass brand that he co-founded.
“Frederick Carder developed and refined innovative techniques still used today, but also developed a remarkable palette of colors and finishes in glass,” explained Rob Cassetti, senior director, Creative Services and Marketing at the Corning Museum of Glass.
“All of his contributions as an artist, inventor, and designer have had a lasting impact on American glassmaking,” he said.
Carder may have been destined to become a glassmaker, but he started as a potter. He was born in 1863 into a family that owned a pottery company in Brierly Hill, England. At age 14, he quit school to support the business. Quickly disenchanted with pottery, Carder took night courses in art, chemistry, electricity, and metallurgy.
Through his studies, Carder eventually met John Northwood and visited his studio, where Northwood’s Portland Vase replica sparked Carder’s love affair with glass.
While still a teenager, Carder began working with Northwood as a designer at a British company, Stevens & Williams. There he learned the techniques and processes involved in glass production and created beautiful works influenced by the Art Nouveau style.