Frances and Michael Higgins are celebrated as pioneers in the area of fused or kiln-fired glass. They founded the Higgins Studio in Chicago in 1948, relocated to Bedford Park, IL, in 1957, to work with the Dearborn Glass Company, and, after a brief tenure with Haeger Potteries, reestabilished their studio in Riverside, IL, just outside Chicago. In addition to creating unique works, they also designed and produced lines of glass for such well-know retailers as Marshall Field’s and Georg Jensen. In 1959, when The Corning Museum of Glass surveyed the international glass scene with their exhibition “Glass 1959,” the Higginses were among only twenty American makers featured. Today, Higgins glass is greatly esteemed and can be found in numerous museum collections.
This vase from the NBMOG collection is signed “Frances Higgins / 1967.” It was purchased by the museum at the Frances Higgins estate auction in 2004. Frances prized it as a personal favorite, and in 2000 she chose it to represent her work in the exhibition/publication “Women Designers in the USA, 1900-2000: Diversity and Difference,” organized by the Bard College Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts. The vase also is illustrated in Higgins: Adventures in Glass by Donald-Brian Johnson and Leslie Pina (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 1997, p. 187).
Frances referred to this type of vase as a “dropout.” Johnson and Pina describe the technique in their book, Higgins: Adventures in Glass. “First,” they write, “the desired assembly of glass is placed on a clay ring-mold. Glass circles of slightly different diameters are used, so that after fusing they make a single edge. As it is heated, the glass sags through and spreads a bit over the shelf of the kiln. When the intended form has been achieved, the kiln is opened and the dropout shape is ‘frozen.’”