Glass and Stone from Hearst Castle

Deborah Osburn’s Tilevera has been producing works in stone  for a quarter-century now, but today her newest efforts are bringing to market a collection of designs that might turn even the head of Charles Foster Kane.

She’s been licensed to reproduce glass, wood and stone designed by Julia Morgan, the first woman to graduate from the Ecole des Beaux Arts and the architect selected by William Randolph Hearst to work on the design of San Simeon.

Morgan would spend the years between 1919 and 1947 working on the project, but never completely finishing it.  With studios in San Francisco and Berkeley, she’d work there during the week and take a train up to the property on the weekends.

“She was also a civil engineer – she did the road from the coast up to the castle, and figured out how to bring water up there,” Osburn says.  “She did it all as a weekender.”

Tilevera’s hand-picked artisans are now producing four Hearst Collections of Morgan’s designs for San Simeon.  Among them is a group of stone pavers, hand painted, carved and shaped.  There are also metal tiles, rosettes and inserts mostly made of bronze.

But the piece de resistance lies within the Venetian glass used to reproduce the designs within the castle’s Roman pool, inspired by a Carvaggio painting.  “It’s clad in smalti, many of the pieces 24-karat gold,” she says.  “The figures and embellishments were created in drawings by Julia Morgan, and hand set by California artisans.”

Tilevera can reproduce the designs in the original smalti tiles from a studio in Venice, and reproduce any portion of the pool.

The fourth group is a mercury glass tile selection inspired by the ancient mirrors Morgan placed throughout the castle.  “It’s probably the best seller,” she says.  “It’s a trend in décor right now.”

Most of the collection calls to mind the iconic designs that are memorable to visitors to the castle.  Tilevera has begun its work with images that people recognize as Morgan’s work.

Royalties from the collection are returned to the castle, to supplement funds it earns as one of the primary moneymakers for the state’s system of public parks.

“It’s a phenomenal collection for a phenomenal cause,” she says.

And worthy, perhaps, of a front-page  feature in Kane’s New York Inquirer?

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All photographs  ©2012 Hearst Castle® California State Parks-Hearst Castle Collection®