A glass act

The breathtaking bespoke commissions of a master of verre églomisé

Verre églomisé – the gilding of precious metals onto glass, after which designs are then etched onto the surface and offset with colour – is an ancient, oft-overlooked artisan skill. As such, the talents of Miriam Ellner, a verre églomisé artist working from her atelier in Chelsea, New York City, are special from the outset. Her luminous, ethereal pieces, which vary in size and scope from simple console tables and splashbacks to powder rooms with chinoiserie (second picture), panelling with neoclassical flourishes (first picture) or even entire ceilings, are simply breathtaking in their intricate skill and eye-catching drama.

Ellner has also devised glass panelling with a subtle silver Moorish motif (fourth picture), incorporating palladium-leaf, mica powders and polychromes, as well as bas reliefs in gold- and palladium-leaf (third picture) for a window display. Meanwhile, her ornate mirrors and glass paintings often use luxe materials such as moon and red gold, micas and crushed abalone in techniques that involve collage and stencil work, to create patterns that are either graphic and bold or subdued and monochromatic.

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Ellner first honed her craft at the Institut Supérieur de Peinture Van der Kelen-Logelain in Brussels, and her work was heavily influenced by the Russian golden age of the 1790s, as well as by the paintings of 1930s French artists such as Jean Dunand. “I have an insatiable curiosity and a great wanderlust,” explains Ellner. “A penchant for the exotic has taken me to India, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East – all of which informs my work.”

These global influences can be seen in the unforgettable pieces she creates for private clients, world-renowned architects and interior designers ­– from the late David Collins in London to Pierre-Yves Rochon in Paris and Achille Salvagni in Italy.

Unsurprisingly, Ellner’s bespoke works of art grace homes and hotels from New York to London and Abu Dhabi – the Ritz-Carlton there features reception desks with her designs – and pieces can be delivered and installed globally. Commissions can take anything from four weeks for a simple table, to six months for more complex installations, and prices vary accordingly – from $2,500 to upwards of $200,000, depending on the scale of the project.

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A visit to Ellner’s light-filled studio is a thing of wonder – it is where she brings an ancient design process to life and creates museum-quality pieces that mesmerise.

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