By Walter Ludwig
A new display has been mounted in Gallery 3 highlighting Heisey’s 1252 Twist line. Represented are all the pieces in the line as well as pieces produced in all of the different colors that were made. The exhibit will run through the March 31 – April 1 Spring Auction.
The 1252 line was new to Heisey in 1928. It was popular at the time and continues to be a popular collectable now. It is usually called by the name conferred on it by Clarence Vogel, an early researcher in Heisey, which was “Twist.” This is a very apt name because the pieces look like they came out of the mold and were given a twist by the glass worker making a very distinctive pattern. Of course, the twists were put into the molds – not done by the worker – showing the ingenuity of the glass designers of the day. It is one of Heisey’s great patterns, a merger of great design with practicality.
Let’s discuss some of the design features that set the 1252 line apart from other patterns. The most distinctive feature that all items in the pattern share is the lines that separate plain areas into bands that create a spiral effect. Many earlier and contemporary patterns of both Heisey and other glass companies are based on spiral effects. Examples include Imperial’s Twisted Optic, U.S. Swirl, Duncan’s Spiral Flutes, and Fostoria’s Queen Anne which became their Colony pattern. Heisey’s pattern is distinguished because of the width of the spirals and the gentleness of the curve. If one examines the pieces you will find that the number of spirals varies from 8 on many pieces to 16 on the largest plates (other pieces have 10, 12, or 14 spirals). There is one piece that one could say has 24 spirals. The displacement of any spiral from its start to end is always less than 45 degrees and usually much less.
The second distinguishing feature is the handles that are slightly open and come to a single point. You see these handles on the mint, nut, and two-handled sandwich and several other pieces. The other features of the pattern are ones that give the pattern a definite Art Deco flair. Art Deco was a major design trend of the twenties and thirties. The hallmark of good Art Deco design is the rejection of the curve and the presence of strong geometrical features. The name Twist implies curves but a close examination of the lines that divide the bands reveals that these lines are always straight even though they may follow the contour of the piece as they do on sodas and tumblers. The plain bands within these lines give the illusion of spirals without sacrificing the Art Deco restriction on curves. Heisey’s designers obviously wanted this pattern to echo its time and Art Deco was in. Heisey added zigzag handles, stepped bases and finials, and stacked pyramids in the stems.
All of these features make the pattern stand out and make it look modern and up to date but maybe not so up to date that it would scare away the more traditionally minded. As one commentator said at the time “modernistic but not bizarre.” The zigzag handles can be found on two sets of cream and sugar, oil bottles, cream soup, and cup (see photo). The stepped bases are on the mayonnaise, footed floral, stemware and footed sodas, and footed salt and pepper. The stepped effect is echoed in the finial on the top of the mustard and the sugar bowl lid, as well as the stopper of the oil bottles. The inverted pyramids are used in the stems of the stemware.
Twist being developed in 1928 comes right in the middle of Heisey’s second color era. While crystal was made and advertised, one sees very little for sale now. Twist and Marigold (“sparkling with golden sheen”) seemed to have been developed together and Marigold was probably the predominant color for the ware when the pattern was first made. You would think it would be easy, therefore, to put a set together in Marigold. Unfortunately, Marigold with uranium as one of its component chemicals proved not to be a stable glass formula. Over time many pieces have taken on a sugary appearance. Even what we would consider a good piece of Marigold now will often look crackly when examined closely. When first made the formula had volatility that would cause the hot glass to pop making working conditions difficult. Within a year of introduction, the Marigold color was discontinued. These two factors make finding good condition pieces of Marigold difficult today. Fortunately Flamingo (“with the delicate glow of sunset”) and Moongleam (“with the cool green of summer meadows”) are the colors most easily found in Twist today and the most collected in sets. Given Twist’s start in 1928 and the end of production in these colors in 1935, the pattern was abundantly made in both colors. In 1930 Heisey introduced Sahara and Alexandrite. Sahara, a much more pleasing pastel tone, replaced Marigold as Heisey’s yellow representative. Alexandrite is an exotic color blending pinks, blues, and lavenders. Sahara was used for 1252 but not all pieces were available in this color. Only three pieces are available in Alexandrite. Only one piece of Twist remained in Heisey’s line in the 1950’s the 4” nappy and that piece is rarely seen in Dawn, Heisey’s smoke color from that era. Tangerine, a bright orange color, is known in a few plates, and a few pieces are known in a seldom seen color, Gold, a variation of Marigold that will glow under black light.