is a Kugel?
Kugels are commonly referred to as the traditional choice for holiday and year round decoration in central Europe. In the United States, Kugels are referred to as Friendship Balls, however since are glass balls originate from Europe we refer to them as Kugels.
Each kugel is hand blown glass, and completely unique. Kugels can be displayed from interior arches, ceiling fixtures, curtain rods, Christmas Trees, holiday garland, hand railings, or wherever you like.
Holiday trees in 1840 were adorned with apples, gilded and natural
fruits and nuts, cookies, popcorn and cranberries, as well as homemade paper items, candles, cornucopias, and presents. It was during this decade that
the first commercially produced Christmas decorations appeared. In 1848, the
first glass ornament, a kugel, appeared in Germany. The kugel was a large hollow ball ranging in size from 1 inch to 18 inches.
Smaller ones were used for tree decorations. The blown, molded, figural glass ornaments that we are
familiar with today evolved from the tradition of blowing
kugels. These ornaments were not sold in America until 1880.
Kugel is a German word that means ball and can be used to describe any type of ball-like object. Collectors used this term to describe any
early thick glass ornament with a decorative cap. Early Kugels were too heavy to hang on tree branches; instead they were suspended from the
ceiling. Soon after their invention, the Germans decided small Kugels should
adorn tree boughs. Shapes such as grapes, berry clusters, apples and pears
became popular. F. W. Woolworth is given credit for bringing Kugels to America in the 1880s.
His initial investment of $25 turned into sales of at least $25 million worth of Kugels over the next several years.
European Art glass balls for holiday decoration are still commonly referred
to in Austria and Germany as Kugels. Kugels range in shape and styles, according to the artist that made them and the
season they are displayed. It is quite common to display egg shaped kugels at Easter and
Heart shapes at Valentines day. Quality kugels are hand blown or mouth blown
art glass. Most are blown into a apple wood mold to retain shape and consistency.
Some artists free blow their kugel designs, thus ending up in an irregular shape.
Air bubbles are common, and expected by the collector.
In America these glass balls are marketed in many ways. Witch balls, spirit
balls, spirit catchers, friendship balls, gazing balls, wishing balls, and so on.
Each having a little bit of home grown folklore attached to make the item unique or extra special.
These beautiful hand blown glass window ornaments are
traditionally known as symbols of friendship. They sparkle in the
light the way a good friend brings sparkle to your life. The colors
swirl and mingle across the surface of the ball enhancing each other just
as the talents and varied personalities of your friends bring color to your
life. These balls have intriguing ripples and ridges making them a
delight to touch as well as behold.
Just Like Friends...No Two Are Alike
Your Garden or Pond
Our blown glass balls are sealed air tight and therefore serve as beautiful accents floating on the surface of any water garden.
They have the added advantage of offering a hook, which can be used to drop a line anchoring the
ball. Without an anchor, free floating pond balls will cluster in one corner
of the pond, but if weighted, our balls stay aesthetically placed. We recommend the use of non-lead weights because lead could poison pond fish.
Floating glass balls may even protect your pond fish from predators. Folklore suggests that raccoons are frightened by the shiny surface of the
balls and will stop poaching your pond pets.
Add other splashes of color to your garden by hanging our blown glass balls from trees or on garden hooks.
They will withstand most weather conditions, as long as they can't swing and bump into a hard surface
Gazing balls have as varied and colorful a history as they are themselves.
The first recorded history of these hand-blown glass garden accents dates back to the 13th century where they were made in Venice.
In 1612 an Italian priest, Antonio Neri named them "Spheres of Light". They have been known by many names - Gazing Globes, Rose Balls, Good Luck Balls, Victorian Balls, Witch
Balls, and Garden Globes. Also called "Globes of Happiness", they have been
used symbolically as wedding gifts - said to bring the bride happiness in her new home.
In the 16th century Francis Bacon stated that a proper garden would have round colored balls for the sun to play upon.
They gained their current widespread popularity during Victorian times, being used both
indoors as well as in the garden. One interior use was in dining rooms and
on sideboards. Placed in such a way, the servant could gaze discreetly into
the ball and see who may need a refill without standing and staring throughout the meal.
Commonly they are known to fend off misfortune, illness and evil, and to bestow happiness to the owner.
The original Victorian Gazing Balls were small (4 inches) hanging balls of either gold or blue glass.
They were hung in the front room windows to repel witches the belief being the witch would
see her reflection, and being repulsed by it, would leave.
A collection of lore from different sources includes the following:
Place the ball close to the front door of a house so that if a witch comes calling, she will see her reflection in the ball and stay there to
stare at herself.
Called "Garden Gazers" in the South, they were placed at the gate to the
front yard so that those sitting on the porches could see who was coming, and have time to either go in and close the door, or go to prepare a glass
of ice tea for the guest.
Used in Victorian gardens, a young woman would gaze into them in hopes
to catch a glimpse of her future husband.