Dorothy Thorpe and her "Ivy Leaves" pattern

by Virginia Scott
Rainbow Review Glass Journal - November 1974

It seems incredible that Dorothy C. Thorpe, a world-renowned artist in crystal, should have started her career by making tumblers from beer bottles. She cut the necks off the bottles and decorated them with raffia or wooded handles. She gave one of her first creations to her brother who took it to MGM Studios where he worked. Clark Gable saw the glass and liked it so much that he ordered six dozen!

House Beautiful Ad In a few Short years, Dorothy C. Thorpe became famous for her original creations in crystal ware. She had no design training yet she does all her own sketches and drawings. She marketed her first pieces through a small Hollywood gift shop. Soon buyers from the largest and best known shops saw her work and placed orders. Her list of customers include many of the Hollywood Studios and stars and wealthy and famous people, including Princess Grace of Monaco and the Shah of Iran. Besides tableware, Dorothy Thorpe has done glass decorations and lamps for the Mormon Temple at Idaho Falls, windows for St. John's Academy at Camarillo and has pieces in several museums. She has won many awards and has been listed in "Who's who in American Art." Dorothy Thorpe has also created china, silver and linens and has worked with plastics and resins.

"Ivy Leaves" was named by Dorothy Thorpe as her most popular pattern for The "15 Most Popular Patterns" survey (Elizabeth Gordon, House Beautiful, Dec. 1942). "Ivy. Leaves," Mrs Thorpe wrote, was carved on a stemware blank I did in Sweden about 35 yeas ago. The extra heavy base made it interesting, and the quality of crystal was superb. Sketches were done from life, as were all of the floral designs" (Picture, at right, courtesy of House Beautiful).

Dorothy C. Thorpe has traveled all over the world and worked in many countries. Her designs show superb artistry, an imaginative flair for form and elegant simplicity. She has worked in clear crystal and opaques, colored and iridescent flashed glass. In Sweden, in the 1930s, Mrs Thorpe developed a technique for sandblasting which was at first bitterly opposed in theory by leading glassmakers. Her other techniques have included hand-painting, hand-carving, silver banding and frosted silver-plating. Her bubble stemware and silver banded glassware have been very popular through the years. Mrs Thorpe gives much credit to her associates, many of whom have been with her for a long time. "My work," she wrote, "is still designing and working out new products with our people here. We have a wonderful group of associates to work with."

About four years ago, Dorothy C. Thorpe, Inc. became a subsidiary of A.R.A. Services, Inc., an international conglomerate, and is in the Sigma Marketing Systems Division. The factory is located at 10800 Cantara Street, Sun Valley, CA.

I want to thank Mrs Thorpe for sending information about her career, without which this article could not have been written.