Author:

Clara Driscoll and the ‘Tiffany girls’

(Editor’s note: DeeDee Wood is the store manager at Tharpe Antiques, in Easton, part of the Talbot Historical Society.) Clara Driscoll designed most of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s famous lampshades, including the Dragonfly, Wisteria and others. She worked for Louis Comfort Tiffany from 1887 to 1909 and also designed, anonymously, many mosaics, small desk objects and windows. Researchers have found letters detailing her time at Tiffany Studios in New York, shedding light on her “Tiffany Girls” as the Women’s Glass Cutting Department was called, as well as her personal feelings and aspirations as a “New Woman” in a turbulent time of change for women in our country. Clara was born in Ohio in 1861. She lost her father at a very young age and was encouraged to attend a higher learning school, unusual for women for the time period of the late 1800s. She attended the Western Reserve School of Design for Women and worked locally as a furniture designer before moving to New York and enrolling in the Metropolitan Museum Art School. Her potential must have been obvious, and she was hired by Tiffany Studios in 1888. Clara was paid $10,000 a year, one of the best salaries a woman could make in New York City in the late 1800s. Tiffany formed the Women’s Glass Cutting Department in a direct response to a strike by male-only Lead Glaziers and...

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