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Wednesday, 11 July 2018 19:58

Tinsel Paintings

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There are many styles of decorative arts, but one of the lesser known is tinsel paintings. Done on the back of glass, tinsel paintings use metallic foil to paint decorative designs. When viewed under light, the foil produces a unique shimmer.

 

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Photo Credit: American Folk Art Museum

 

This style of decorative art was popular, particularly among women, in the United States from 1850 to 1890.[1] Some young women even attended classes to learn how to make these intricate pieces of art. Since botanical patterns were easy to obtain, most tinsel paintings depict floral imagery.[2] Some rare works even included photography and collages to make the painting.[3]

 

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Photo Credit: American Folk Art Museum

 

At HSMC, we are fortunate to have a beautiful example of tinsel painting. This tea table was made by Emma Kratz Weinberger in 1860, when she was just seventeen-years-old. Emma attended the Excelsior Normal Institute in Carversville, where she learned how to make paintings like the one on this table. She married Professor John Weinberger and moved to Collegeville circa 1860, where John taught at Ursinus College. It seems likely that Emma continued to make tinsel paintings after her move to Collegeville, but, like so many other tinsel paintings, they have likely been lost or broken over time.

 

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Emma Kratz Weinberger Tea Table, 1860

 

This tea table is currently on display in our Made in Montgomery County exhibit, which is free and open to the public. We invite you to come view it for yourselves before the exhibit closes on February 1, 2019.

 

Take a look at this short video to see more examples of tinsel paintings:

https://www.pbs.org/video/nyc-arts-foiled-tinsel-painting-america-american-folk-art-museum/

 


[1]American Folk Art Museum, “Foiled: Tinsel Painting in America,” September 12, 2012, https://folkartmuseum.org/exhibitions/foiled-tinsel-painting-in-america/.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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