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Rainbow of Kugels
Antique kugels come in an array of colors, which were often created by adding trace amounts of metals-- iron, bfor example, to make green or cobalt to make deep blut--to molten glass. Silver kugels are clear glass; their metallic appearnce comes from mirroed interiors. Two-to-four-inch balls are most common, but kugels can be found in myriad sizes and shapes, including grapes and eggs. Forms such as the gold mushroom and silver artichoke shown here are very rare.
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Gold and Gleaming
A goose-feather topiary showcases an assortment of silver and gold kugels. Feather trees, popularized in the nineteenth century, were the first artificial Christmas trees. Ours sits in a vintage wooden tree stand adorned with milk-glass reindeer; it is flanked by a pair of silver kugels in mercury-glass saltcellars.
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Sampling of Styles
Kugels, ranging from one-half inch to eight inches long, hang from lengths of ribbon or trimming or their original chains: an egg, grapes, an egg with a ball attached with what is known as a double-hanger, an "end-of-day" ball made with leftover materials, and an early "piked" sphere designed before the use of brass caps.
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Rose-colored kugels in pink lustreware goblets and tumblers are a cheerful centerpiece (secure pieces with utility wax). A dramatic twenty-inch ball trimmed with pink heather and suspended from the ceiling reflects the composition below.
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An emerald-green kugel, dangling from picture wire strung with vintage beads, is set off by a eucalyptus-leaf graland and a grid of tiny balls in verdant hues. The latter are fastened to pieces of wire and secured to each muntin with utility wax.
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A fixture drips with dazzling glass baugles in various sizes that are attached with fourteen-gauge wire. Green ornaments are plentiful because their color was relatively inexpensive to produce. (The iron needed to make lighter shades is found in some types of sand.) This makes them an excellent choice for a beginning collector.
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A profusion of kugel grapes and other ornaments in cool tones is piled on an antique silver-plated tea tray and secured with utility wax; sprigs of fruiting eucalyptus add a pretty flourish. Grapes were made in both stylized and naturalistic forms.