This is Art: Witches’ Balls?

September 6, 2017 in Art,Art Gallery,Art Glass,Artists,Color,Colorado | Comments (0)

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If you never heard the term, Witches’ Balls, you are not alone. But to many who collect these ornaments, they help protect from evil spirits. At Hunter-Wolff Gallery, they are beautiful decorative blown glass ornaments. But why are they called Witches’ Balls?

Modern day witches balls are decorative replicas of the hollow sphere of colored glass traditionally used as a fishing float. Today, you can find blown glass made to look like Christmas tree baubles that contain a few thin fibers strung inside.

Colorado Glass Blower Dottie Boscamp creates a signature Witch Ball that is iconic of the Colorado Aspens.

Why the term “Witches’ Balls”? Floating glass buoys became connected with witches during witch hunts in England. In the late 17th century, suspected witches were tried by being tied up and thrown into water. If the water rejected them from a second baptism and they floated, then the suspects were confirmed as witches, under the rule of trial by water, and they were then hung by the neck until dead.  In a like manner these heavy glass fishing floats, all tied up in a net, could not be made to sink. The water rejected them and they bobbed merrily upon its surface. Historically, witches’ balls were hung in cottage windows in 17th and 18th century England to ward off evil spirits and spells, witches, and ill fortune. Just as hanging a witch was believed to remove evil influences from a village, hanging a tried and tested witch’s ball that had been floating in water, around a home, was believed to protect the home from similar ills. Usage has continued to a smaller extent in America up to the present day.

Whether you believe in Witches or not, we enjoy the folklore and especially enjoy sharing these colorful ornaments blown by Dottie Boscamp.

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