The Evolution of a Higgins Glass Collector

OK…It’s time for brutal honesty and total transparency. It time for me to fess up like an alcoholic at an AA meeting. My name is Brandie, and I am truly captivated by Higgins glass.

Exhibit A

When I saw my first Higgins glass dish I was hooked.   Out antiquing with my mother-in-law, we happened upon a dish and bowl that caught my eye at once. It was reddish-orange and had a stained glass look to it. It was beautiful and I found myself wondering how it was made and who made it?

I went home empty handed to research the subject further. Much to my amazement I discovered the Higgins Studio was in Riverside, IL, right next door to the town I grew up in. It triggered a memory of happening upon their studio way before I had ever developed an interest in glass. I can’t remember who I was with, either my grandmother or my friend Kim perhaps…But upon entering the studio I was completely enchanted by everything I saw.  I remember experiencing a genuine sense of warm southern hospitality when, Frances graciously invited us and shared cookies and a cool drink with us back in the studio area. On that day I remember the side (garagelike) door being open to the studio and enjoying a quiet, peacful visit with this lovely person.

Needless to say, after realizing this connection, I couldn’t get those Higgins dishes off my mind, and I trekked back over to the antique shop the next day to purchase my first Higginsware.

Next I went about educating myself further and purchased “Higgins: Adventures in Glass” and then, “Higgins: Poetry in Glass” both by Donald-Brian Johnson & Leslie Pina. These are wonderful, must have books for not only collectors, but those who appreciate fused glass art, or students of glass. I had the great fortune to get Frances’s signature in my Adventures book which is part of my little collection that I especially treasure.

I went through a season of time when I was glued to Ebay always watching for Higgins glass every chance I could get. This was a time when I’m embarrassed to say I became very dedicated (borderline obsessed…lol) with collecting. During that time a variety of pieces were acquired…My favorite was this precious little piece from Higgins early studio years (Exhibit B), I’m hoping.

Exhibit B

I especially love Frances’s work with trees and birds, and she has mentioned always wanting to include the sun in her work. My guess is she would have made this charming piece??

I probably would have kept going with my Ebay collecting efforts if there were endless time and funds available…But instead my interest eventually began to shift to trying my own hand at fused glass. I’m enjoying developing a voice of my own in glass, though I’m mostly singing in the shower at the point. 😉  However, my biggest inspiration is most unabashedly Higgins glass! Witness Exhibit C to below.

Exhibit C

It adorns my humble studio space and surrounds me while I’m in there dreaming and playing around with glass. It’s one of my favorite places to be. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the pioneering work and distinctly modern mark Michael and Frances Higgins made in glass in their lifetimes, and that their legacy lives on in the Wimmer’s, their chosen successors.

To further illustrate the fact that when I see Higgins Glass I have no will of my own and require a 12 step treatment program, I give you exhibit D: This past Friday, December 2nd, Higgins Glass Studio held their 63rd! annual Christmas Open House event. It’s historic. It’s epic. It’s something like a shark feeding frenzy as collectors jockey there way to their latest and greatest treasure.  I attended with every intention of spending no more than $50. When it was all said and done I couldn’t escape without spending four times that much. It looks like I better start selling more of my own work to be able to sustain my Higgins habit!

Exhibit D
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