Gabriel Argy-Rousseau followed in the footsteps of Gallé, Daum, and the school of Nancy-based glass artisans who were responsible for putting French art glass on the map and into the homes of consumers in the early years of the 20th century. Instead of working in cameo glass or crystal like his predecessors, Argy-Rousseau chose pâte-de-verre, or glass paste, as his medium.
Pâte-de-verre is a mold-based technique for creating glass (rather than blowing). Glass is ground into a fine powder, then a binding agent is added to make a paste. Color compounds and a flux to facilitate melting are both added as well. The paste is then placed in a mold and fired. The result is a rather cloudy, rough glass surface with vibrant colors.
Argy-Rousseau mastered pâte-de-verre, using it to create vases, lamps, and jewelry, such as this ‘Cicada’ pendant. Designed in 1923, the pendant features a cicada in vibrant shades of blue, presented almost as if a scientific specimen on a glass slide.