Reverse Painted Glass Christmas Ornaments with Inner Beauty Artist Trieste Cordova

Trieste Cordova is an Inner Beauty master artist who specializes in the ancient Chinese technique of reverse glass painting, a craft she has perfected over a lifetime. During past years, she would pay special visits to Montana Gift Corral, sharing her reverse painting skills at the Mall and Downtown locations with customers that return to visit with her year after year. While you can always shop our Inner Beauty Christmas ornament collection, we can’t wait to host her in our stores again in the future!

It is always magical to see artists we work with doing their craft, and we hope you enjoy the magic too! 

Trieste Cordova of Inner Beauty Ornaments

Trieste Cordova is an artist and leader in the gift industry. Trieste is the Vice President and Creative Director for Inner Beauty.


How Reverse Painted Glass Ornaments Are Made

Beginning with an unpainted blown glass ornament, skilled artists like Trieste use specialized bent brushes that fit into the small hole on the top of the ornament, to paint the design on the interior of the glass ornament. Because the outermost details of the design must be painted first, the entire scene must be painted with handcrafted brushes in reverse order.

Trieste Cordova using the reverse painted glass technique on ornaments at Montana Gift Corral

Tools of the trade. Trieste is shown here demonstrating the reverse painted glass technique at Montana Gift Corral in 2019.


Here’s an example from Trieste: if you are painting a scene with Santa holding a candle, then you must start with the candlelight hitting his face before actually painting his skin, and the jolly glisten in his eyes before painting the eye color itself! 

The History of Reverse Painting

According to Trieste, the art of reverse painting is an ancient Chinese tradition. Around 500 years ago, reverse painting was often performed by artisans on high-end “snuff bottles,” which were used to store chewing tobacco. These reverse painted glass snuff bottles were a strong indicator of status, while more affordable bottles were made of bamboo and ceramic.  

Three reverse-painted glass snuff bottles

These three reverse painted glass snuff bottles were crafted in the late 19th century. The first, signed Yong Shoutian, depicts ladies and scholars conversing. The second, signed Tang Zichuan, 1890-1930, depicts boys at play. The third, signed Li Shouchang and dated 1892, depicts two conversing ladies and scholarly items on the reverse. Image and details courtesy of


In the last few decades, skilled artists like Trieste began taking this ancient Chinese tradition and applying it to Christmas ornaments as a way to celebrate both Christmas and this beautiful, intricate art form!

Trieste Cordova reverse painting glass ornaments

Trieste reverse painting glass ornaments at our Mall location in 2019. It's so cool to see her work in action!





Visuals and story by Zach Altman.

Last updated on December 9th, 2020. 

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