Spotted in our second issue, in the chic and happy home of San Diego stylist Kelley Lilien (aka Mrs. Lilien), on her bar table and in the hands of her guests, are these lovely retro cocktail glasses with thick silver ombre around their rims. If they look familiar to you, it’s no wonder—they are an iconic design from the mid-century, and have been making a huge comeback lately in stylish homes worldwide. I decided to dig a little deeper into the history behind Mrs. Lilien’s excellent barware collection for this edition of Object Found.
This signature design was created by Dorothy Thorpe, a prolific ceramic and glassware designer working in the forties and fifties, whose designs have been admired and emulated to this day. Thorpe was born in Salt Lake City in 1901, and after graduating from the University of Utah she moved to Glendale, California, in the 1930s. There, she began designing glassware and ceramics.
She did not blow the glassware herself; instead, she purchased prefabricated glasses and used different techniques to manipulate the material, like sandblasting patterns and adding the thick silver bands you see here. Heisey Glass Co. produced some of her stemware with etched floral designs, and her work was mostly sold through upscale department stores.
Now, many of the silver banded and ombre style glassware you see available today are not her original designs, but rather reproductions of that style. Her pieces all bear her trademark stamp or sticker on the bottom (shown above), so when shopping for this type of glassware, be sure to keep your eye out for the Dorothy Thorpe originals, as they hold some value. However, if you’re simply looking for a cocktail set that shares the classic minimalist beauty of Thorpe’s design, such as the ones below, you can find many options on Etsy, eBay, and other online auctions that range in size, condition, and price.
If you do acquire a Thorpe-style cocktail set, I can think of no better way to celebrate than to throw an impromptu soiree in the style of the fabulous Mrs. Lilien, one that harkens back to a classic era of entertaining. You can read more about the party on page 120 of our second issue, still available in stores now!
Ombre roly poly glasses with caddy (no longer available)