Biography: Frederick Carder
Frederick Carder (1863–1963), a gifted English designer, managed Steuben Glass Works from its founding in 1903 until 1932. At the age of 14, Carder left school and joined his family’s pottery business in Brierley Hill, England. He studied chemistry and technology in night school. In 1879, he became fascinated with glassmaking after visiting the studio of John Northwood, where he saw Northwood’s cameo glass replica of the Portland Vase, the most famous piece of ancient Roman cameo glass. One year later, on Northwood’s recommendation, Carder went to work as a designer at Stevens & Williams, a large English glassmaking company. There, as Northwood's chief assistant, he experimented with glass colors and designs.
Carder moved to Corning in 1903 at the invitation of Thomas G. Hawkes, owner of Steuben. For the next 30 years, Carder had a free hand in designing that firm’s products and developing new colors and techniques. In 1932, when Steuben’s new president decided to concentrate on colorless glass, Carder left Steuben to become design director of Corning Glass Works. There he oversaw such large-scale projects as the making of cast panels for Rockefeller Center in New York City. As an octogenarian, he created smaller cast glass sculptures and other one-of-a-kind pieces. Carder’s glassmaking career ended in 1959, when, at the age of 96, he finally closed his studio and “retired.”
During the 82 years in which he worked with glass, he produced many works that are dazzling in their virtuosity. Together, they include hundreds of colors and techniques. Robert F. Rockwell, a Corning businessman, was Carder’s golfing partner and friend in the 1940s. In the following decade, he began to assemble a remarkable collection of Steuben glass. This collection, which was later given to the Rockwell Museum, is now on loan to The Corning Museum of Glass. Most of it is shown in the Carder Gallery, which also houses much of the Carder glass owned by the Corning Museum. Many of the Corning Museum’s pieces were gifts from Frederick Carder or from his daughter. There is also a large group of colored Steuben objects, dating from the 1920s and 1930s, that came to the Museum as the gift of Corning Glass Works.