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A-Lamp
A type of incandescent lamp, shaped like a hot-air-balloon, having a round globe top that necks down to a metal screw base, that is currently used in most indoor residential lighting applications.
Acanthus
A Mediterranean plant whose leaves growing through a wicker basket, according to Vitruvius, the Roman architectural writer, suggested the Corinthian capital to the Greek sculptor Callimachus. This stylized leaf was widely used in classic Greek and Roman architecture and decoration, as well as in later revivals of these styles.
Acid etching
The process of etching the surface of glass with hydrofluoric acid. Often used simply to frost clear glass, acid etching can also produce decoration by covering the glass with an acid-resistant substance such as wax, through which the design is scratched. A mixture of dilute hydrofluoric acid and potassium fluoride is then applied to etch the exposed areas of glass.
Adam
A style of architecture, art and decoration lasting from approximately 1775 to 1810 based on the work of the brothers Robert and James Adam who were English architects. The Adam Brothers were among the first “Neoclassical period” designers. Their work was influenced by a new close observation of Roman excavations in Pompeii and Spalatro. Characteristics of their style are chaste low-relief detail, slender, fine, straight lines, symmetry, and classical Roman and Greek scenes and ornamentation. They later drew inspiration from Chinese and even medieval Gothic period sources.
Alabaster
A very fine variety of either gypsum or calcite mined in Egypt, Spain, Italy, and England, among other locations. It is translucent and its color is white to dark amber. It sometimes has veins of contrasting black or brown bands running through it. It is often used for domes or shades of light fixtures.
Annealing
The process of slowly cooling glass or metal in a furnace to relieve stresses and impart certain characteristics to the object. If a hot metal or glass object is intentionally quenched or allowed to cool too quickly, stresses remain frozen in the structure that often lead to brittleness.
Anthemion
Decorative motif of Greek origin, usually appearing mounted on a roofline or on top of a cornice. The radiating pattern resembles the honeysuckle flower or palm leaf. See also “Palmette”.
Apron
A vertical border placed at right angles to the underside of a shelf, ledge, or table top. See also “Skirt”.
Arabesque
An ornamentation consisting of an interlacing design of foliage.
Arch
A construction that spans space and supports its own weight as well as the weight of the structure above it. Arches are typically curved, though they have many variations.
Arm
An arm is the projecting element that supports the candle or lamp. In an exterior wall fixture, the arm usually projects from the backplate on the wall to support the globe or body of a lantern. In a multi-arm chandelier, the arm usually projects from the body to support the candle or shade-bearing cup. In a wall sconce, the arm usually projects from the backplate on the wall to support the candle or shade-bearing cup.
Arm-receiver Bowl
A decorative covering of the arm-receiver plate. This silvered glass or metal vessel conceals the juncture of the arms and their wiring, if any.
Arm-receiver Plate
In some sconces (at the location of the armback) and most many multi-arm chandeliers (at the body), an arm-receiver plate is a metal plate with square or round holes into which the mating male ends of the arms connect. It is not commonly visible or decorative.
Armback
An armback is the visible and or decorative element that supports the arm from the point where it springs off the backplate (in the case of a sconce) or body (in the case of a chandelier) and conceals the arm-receiver plate.
Art Deco
A style of architecture, art and decoration lasting from approximately 1920 to about 1940, this period takes its name from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industririels Modernes of 1925. The unifying hallmarks of the period were an interest in simplified, reductivist geometric forms, speed, machine design, and products engineered for mass production. There were roughly two branches of the Art Deco movement, one interested in applying abstracting, essentializing, geometric treatment to all objects, be they teapots, book-bindings, or automobiles, and the other interested in form following function, rather than the decorative treatment of surfaces per se.
Art Glass
A term meant to describe any of the many non-architectural, hand-made, variegated color, glass materials used in manufacturing lighting fixtures and leaded, stained glass windows.
Art Nouveau
A style of architecture, art and decoration lasting from approximately 1880 to 1925 whose hallmark is asymmetry and a serpentine whiplash line. The style was inspired by plant and animal forms in nature, which were rendered in attenuated, stylized detail. Some of the leading Art Nouveau designers were H. Guimard, L.C. Tiffany, A. Gaudi, C. R. Mackintosh, and A. Beardsley.
Arts and Crafts
A stylistic period in architecture and decorative arts from approximately 1880-1920 and strongest in the US, England, and Germany. The style emphasized decoration derived from construction techniques (e.g. expressed mortise and tenon joinery or nailheads) and hand-crafted products with the toolmarks left intact. The philosophical wellspring of this movement was an antipathy to the alienation of the craftsman from his work in an industrial setting, and a rose-tinted view of the medieval guild and cathedral school systems of production. The overall designs of fixtures were generally plain and ornamented if at all, with simple, naturalistic, stenciled decoration. See also "Mission Style".