Hand painted ornaments are often very special. This is even more so when the ornaments are painted from the inside of the glass ball. The art of inside painting requires a high degree of skill from the artist – hand painting on the outside of the ball is so much easier.
The more detailed and artistic the imagery is that is painted on the inside of the ornament, the higher skilled and trained its artist has to be – and the more collectible and precious the ornament.
The result of inside painting is spectacular: the glass on the outside of the ball reflects the light beautifully. If held up against the light, the ornament can appear translucent, when hanging among the lights of a Christmas tree, the ornament simply sparkles. (Ornaments that are hand painted on the outside of the glass can’t reflect the light at all, because the glass is covered by paint.)
But how is it done?
Inside painting is an ancient art form. It originated in the early 1800s by painting inside of Snuff Bottles. Snuff was a mixture of tobacco, herbs and essential oils, all mixed into a fine powder. Ever since, inside painted art – whether snuff bottles, crystal balls, or glass ornaments – continues to be prized by collectors.
First the inside of the ornament is acid washed for the paint to adhere to the glass. Then the artist creates the painting by inserting a miniature brush through the tiny hole at the top, and painting each minute detail in reverse, often solely by the sense of touch, as the opaque glass does not allow the artist to see the tip of the brush.
The process begins with an outline of the design, then painstakingly filling in the colors one by one in layers, starting with the top layer and finishing with the background. It takes two years of teaching for an artist to become good enough to paint quality works. Intricate designs like those offered by Maui by Design take many hours, sometimes days, to paint, and each one is an original work of art. No two pieces are alike.