Day One – Happy New Year!!

Well, this is it! Day one, the kick-off of our 365 day conversation about cameo glass with Kelsey Murphy and Robert Bomkamp!!
We are very excited to have you come along on this journey with us, and would love for you to feel free to participate as much or as little as you would like. 🙂
Have a cool story about cameo glass to share? We’d love to hear it! Have pictures of your collection? We love to see pictures!! Have a question about the history of cameo glass, the process, how Kelsey and Bob became involved? Ask away, that’s what we’re here for!
Looking forward to this journey together, and wishing you the Happiest New Year ever!
Kelsey, Robert, Marian, and Jenni

Published in: on December 31, 2009 at 7:18 pm  Comments (15)  

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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Kelsey and Bob, I just want to wish you lots of luck at getting this kicked off. I am looking forward to knowing more about cameo glass, process and some of the work you’ve created in the past.

  2. What an awesome opportunity for us to learn from the Masters about Cameo glass. Please start at the very beginning since Cameo glass is a whole new world for me. Congratulations on creating this space!!

  3. I was just wondering about the scope of this conversation. Will it include Victorian era cameo pieces? What about other modern day artists like Marialyce Hawke??


  4. OK, here we go…
    In 1980 I was sandblasting paint off an old medicine cabinet and happened to miss the wood and hit the mirror. It etched it! I did some sign painting in my advertising agency and thought the sign painting mask might work to protect the areas I wanted to stay shiny. Eureka! it worked…and changed my life.
    Within three months I had closed the agency, rented a large warehouse space, a 75 horse air compressor, 30 employees and Glass Expectations was borne. We were mostly involved in flat clear glass for restaurants, furniture, mirrors and frames but we tried everything possible to add color and were successful, to a degree. One of our customers in Chicago asked us to do large 3-D forms…we had never done that. Compound curves, 3-D, many new challenges but…why not give it a try.
    On the way home from furniture market, our main showplace, we stopped at Pilgrim Glass, Ceredo, West Virginia, to source the blanks. The owner, Alfred Knobler, was there that day and saw our portfolio and with in a couple of months we had a contract to do vases and little off hand (made without benefit of a mold) eggs. We were told the volume on the eggs would be high, maybe as many as 5000 a year, well…they took them to market and in a week had sold 60,000 of them. Neither Pilgrim or Glass Expectations knew how to make them in those numbers. Imagine the panic! But we did it! We had X convicts, children, old people…anyone who would and could do the job and we delivered. Twelve hours a day seven days a week but we made it and the orders continued for 15 years.
    Tomorrow I will continue the history and add pics of those first things that put us in the business of 3-D stuff.
    This story is told in full blow-by-blow detail in an article printed by Glass Collector’s Digest and I have some reprints if you are interested please contact me at more soon

    • Wow! What a start! Little did you know then where it would lead you. That medicine cabinet deserves a place of honor. Looking forward to your next “chapter” very much.

    • Kelsey I had no idea that your business started that quickly. When you were doing the 60,000 orders that Pilgram had for you, how many people did you have working for you at that time?

      Its amazing the progress you had made with that “slip” of the wrist.

  5. The information on ancient and Victorian cameo is available through the Corning Museum. They have published several definitive books on the subject and they might be available for down load. Marialyce Hawk has been carving glass since the 1960’s and is very well known as one of the leaders in the field. I have met her on a couple of occasions and I have tried to contact her to add to this Cameo Journal but I don’t have her email so if anyone has it…let me know. Another wonderful contemporary cameo artist is Valerie Surjan. I’m going to find her as well and join her in the conversation. This is a come one come all book. We want it to be a platform a place to learn and ask and answer…to join the MAGIC!

  6. Sorry I do not have Marialyce’s personal Email at present. Maybe available from one of the galleries that handle her work. I do have a number of her pieces – will be happy to share pics if the conversation goes in that direction. I even have an early piece signed in cameo with her maiden name – Ruthil.

    I also have a few Kelsey pieces from back in the Pilgrim days.

    Would love to find a piece of Valerie’s work.


  7. You can google Valerie. She comes up first.
    Please send any and all pictures that you think might be relevant. I think everyone should see what there is out there.

  8. I am going to start getting photos ready to post. I know we can do it on facebook so I’m going to start there.
    Stu – We would love to see pictures of your collection, all of it. To me anything in cameo is interesting and I think it is important for all of our fans and collectors to know what is being done.

  9. Kelsey – I’ll need some help here to figure out how to post pics. I don’t have a Facebook account – I read/send these messages at the Worldpress site. Is that the right place to be?? If so – I don’t see a way to attach pics.

    Meanwhile I see an opportunity to discuss a question which may be asked by many cameo collectors. What is the line between *etched* and *cameo cut* glass. Here’s a good example. An Ebay posting for a Marialyce piece.

    Note the seller uses both terms in their listing. IMHO this piece looks etched. I don’t think you can have it both ways. Do you agree?? Wouldn’t it be easier for the artist to make an etched piece vs deeper cutting for true cameo??


    • Stu,
      I’m working on figuring out a way for people to post pictures on here….In the meantime, if you email them to me at, I can put them on for you.

    • The difference between Cameo, Cameo carved and etched are as follows.
      Cameo according to all of the sources I have seen, including Corning Museum, is an object or vessel containing two or more colors. The top colors are then removed, leaving the design, to expose the color beneath.

      Cameo carved – an object or vessel that has an applied color on the surface ( like Fenton carnival) the background of the design is then deeply carved away leaving the design raised and the base color of the object becomes the background.

      Etched – these objects or vessels are just one color. The surface is satinized either with acid , cream etch or sandblasted leaving the design shinny or clear. When we were at Pilgrim, in order to create the “Cameo” effect, before we figured out how to do it, or when the object did not warrant the cost, we would stain the etched surface. A perfect example of this technique was the famous Pilgrim egg. We made tens of thousands of them. I’m trying to find pictures of them to post.

      They are often referred to as Cameo on Ebay

    • Is not exactly easier but it is much less dangerous, from a survival aspect. It is much faster but in order to do it right with lots of detail and cutaways like Marialyce does you need tons of control and skill.
      We use, what I call a vignette technique that leaves the carving very deep at one side of an art element and then it fades to just a light sparkle, sort of an air brush effect. This technique, in actual hours, takes less time but one mistake and the effect and often the piece is ruined.
      Can’t wait to see your pictures

  10. It’s All About Cameos…

    Molded cameos are usually made of glass. Often the colors are swirled together. Glass cameos are usually quite shiny. Molded cameos are also molded from plastic. The Wedgwood style cameos were made from plastic. Plastic makes a terrific imitation shell…

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