Gallé Soufflé – The term soufflé or ‘mould-blown’ is generally used today to distinguish between Gallé industrial glassware that has relief detailing and that which does not. Whereas in both instances the shape of the vessel was formed in a mould, in a mould-blown piece the primary decoration protrudes significantly from the surface to provide sculpted definition and, thereby, increased realism.
The technique was limited almost exclusively to a series of cameo vases and light fixtures decorated with vegetables and fruit, to which it was it was well suited. Apples, and pendent bunches of cherries and grapes stand out naturalistically against pale matte skies, each domed piece of fruit highly polished. Others in the series included plums, crocuses, tulips, tomatoes, hyacinths, chrysanthemums, fuchsias, water lillies, morning glories and rambler roses. Fruit-laden orange and lemon branches embellish the underside of a pair of chandeliers, on which a squirrel forages for acorns on an oak bough. The most prized mould-blown model today, however, is the rhododendron table lamp, produce with either red or purple blossoms, every bit as stunning with the additional interplay of blended colours generated by their relief detailing. The model is believed to have been exhibited at the 1924 Exposition Universelle, Paris. Smaller models in this genre included the mould-blown cherry and plum designs.
Most mould-blown pieces comprised three of more superimposed layers of coloured glass, each compounding the luminescent effect. The etching technique, employing hydrofluoric acid, was the same as that used for standard industrial wares, superimposed colours within editions being interchanged to widen the range of effects.