As I child I remember spring days as a time to draw circles and dig holes for our annual neighborhood marble games. The games ranged in complexity, but even the simplest games were worth keeping a few glass orbs at the ready in your pocket. These kinds of games have been played for hundreds of years, starting with clay marbles used in ancient Egypt. Round nuts and small stones were also popular precursors to the iconic glass pieces still used today.
While the glass marbles in my pocket in the 1960s were mass produced, possibly in the USA, German hand made white alabaster marbles were the best playing pieces in the 1800s. In 1900 a patented machine revolutionized the process and it wasn’t long before many US companies contributed to a mass produced marble explosion. The 1920s and 1930s turned out to be the Golden Age of the Marble. Brightly coloured slags, swirls, corkscrews, guineas, cobras, aggies and even bumboozers were available on the market for players and collectors. As the years pass and older designs go out of circulation, these designs of course become more valuable for their rarity. There are also many soda lime and borosilicate glass workers who create beautiful one of a kind pieces as collectibles.
As a lampworker and bead maker most of my work falls in the jewelry category. And while the true definition of a marble would be a solid round sphere, as a bead maker I consider my round and egg shape solid pieces to be marbles. This bead of the month has coloured ribbons twisted around transparent glass. It is then encased in clear which allows for brilliant sunlight refraction of colours. A highly addictive process of creation, and still worth keeping one or two in my pocket at all times!