A Tiffany great-grandson in Seattle carries on with glass

Until he took up glass blowing later in life, Rodman Gilder Miller thought little about the work of his famous great-grandfather, Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Miller, 62, gave up a career as a cellular biologist and has been living in Seattle since 1989, making glass in his converted garage-studio near Fremont."I knew my great-grandfather was a famous artist, but I didn't really appreciate that," he said. "When I took up glass blowing, I began to read everything I could. It's been a great source of pride having that connection."

Miller will be present at Seattle Art Museum 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to demonstrate and discuss his work.

Although his great-grandfather died before Miller was born, he heard stories about Tiffany from his mother.

"He was sort of an authoritarian. My mother talked about having to go see Grandpapa on Sundays. It was expected that everyone had to bow down to the king. Even as a 6- or 7-year-old she felt she had to pay homage to him," Miller said, about her visits to the luxurious 580-acre estate Laurelton Hall on Long Island.

"Then the kids had to go out and play in the fountains. [Tiffany's] idea of paradise was having nymphs in the water — preferably with wings — but grandchildren with no clothes on was the next best thing."

Miller says Tiffany's estate was badly handled and that little of his great grandfather's wealth or artworks were passed along to the family. Miller owns just two small souvenirs of Tiffany glass, a plate and a small goblet, both production ware.

But he has studied the Tiffany business and formed his own ideas about how Tiffany worked. "I think Tiffany had an eye for publicity and such," Miller said. "I don't think he actually did [much of the work] himself. He had people working on innovations. It seems unlikely he would have had the skills for some of it."

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