Mysterious ‘Sphere of Light’ spotted at T.C. Steele State Historic Site
Scientists declare: “It’s more than just a fad.”
Occasionally, the appropriateness of the gazing globe that graces Selma Steele’s garden falls under question — usually by younger visitors to the site who assume these globes are a new thing. But they weren’t new even in Selma’s day. Like cicadas, they are cyclical, although I suspect the interval between periods of popularity is more than 17 years.
Fifty years ago, I remember being fascinated by them. A garden center near my grandparents home had a large outdoor display of them, and I came to associate gazing balls with grandparents and other things old (and interesting). My plea to possess one fell on deaf ears — then gazing globes fell out of fashion and I forgot about them until the latest resurgence of globe fever.
When they began showing up about 10 years ago, after some shameless hinting I received a beautiful purple glass orb for my birthday. It was a dream realized. But what I didn’t realize (like our young visitors) was that they represent more than a yard decoration.
The first gazing balls made their appearance in 13th century Venice. They were made of hand-blown glass, which limited their size somewhat. Today, there seems to be no limit on size, color, materials or placement. Selma would be envious of the selection — copper, stainless steel, mosaic and ceramic in addition to the traditional glass. Even the glass globes are varied, from mirrored to swirly opalescent.
Filed under: culture, history, museums, State Historic Sites, T.C. Steele | Tagged: blown glass, garden globe, gazing ball, gazing globe, good luck, spheres of light, Victorian balls | Leave a Comment »