This weekend saw a series of special events at Isle of Wight Studio Glass, nestled under the cliffs near Ventnor. I had been invited down to sign copies of my book, and to chat to collectors about pieces from their collections. And collectors and glass fans certainly turned up, creating a buzzy atmosphere that was made especially festive with complimentary homemade mince pies and mulled wine. One special visitor, who popped in purely by chance, was Angus MacDonald who can be seen with Elizabeth Harris and I in the photograph above. Angus was one of the two first glassmakers employed by the studio’s founder, Michael Harris, in 1972. It was fascinating to be able to talk to him about his memories of the very earliest days of the studio, and of working with Michael. Angus left the studio in 1978 and, although he doesn’t make glass any more, he still handles it in his role as owner of CART, a specialist in the transportation and storage of fine art and crafts.

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Alfie’s Christmas Party

Last night, cool collectors and fabulous 20thC design fans gathered for one of my favourite pre-Christmas events – the Christmas party at Alfie’s Antiques Market in Marylebone, London. Drinks flowed and the live music, provided by a gypsy band walking around the centre, was punctuated with excited conversation and laughter. It’s always a superb time to see new stock, bought specially for the event, and to catch up with dealers, fellow collectors and colleagues. Amongst those I met last night were the marvellously dressed fashion expert and author Madeleine Marsh, notable Art Deco and ceramics dealers Beth & Beverley Adams, mid-century ceramics and glass dealer Geoffrey Robinson, and the fashion connoisseurs and dealers Sparkle Moore and Cad van Swankster. Although the event seemed to be a little quieter than usual on the business front, I saw plenty of deals being struck, and bags and smiles being carried out by customers. Of course, I was one of them, with my bag containing this studio glass sculpture by Sam Herman. I’ve been admiring it for some time and thankfully …

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I had a drink with Darth Vader

I’ve just got back from the Collectors’ Club of Great Britain Fair, run by Collect It!, the magazine I have written a monthly column for over the past six years. It was great to see so many keen collectors braving the freezing rain and winds to visit. Many of them stopped by the Miller’s stand to browse our range of books and have a friendly chat. I also joined my friends and colleagues Judith Miller and Eric Knowles in giving valuations of much-loved antiques and collectables brought in from homes across the country. A particular highlight was finding a late 1930s Stevens & Williams ‘Rainbow’ cut glass vase amongst a small collection of glass brought in by a young collector. He had recently bought it at a car boot sale for £8, which is a complete bargain considering I think it’s worth anything from £300-500! Well done Joe! Although he didn’t know what it was at the time, he clearly has a great eye for spotting quality.

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Fat Lava – The Movie

Even though the Fat Lava exhibition catalogue has sold out, I’m delighted to announce that the official Fat Lava documentary DVD is now available. With sweeping views of the original and first exhibition, fascinating interviews with the owner of the collection, Dr Graham Cooley, dealers including Petra and Patrick Folkersma of Outernational, and I, this is an essential addition for every Fat Lava lover’s library. Professionally produced by Nigel Edwards of Inhouse Productions and with a running time of 16 minutes, you can see a sample of the full documentary by watching the 4 minute introduction above. Only 100 copies of this DVD have been produced, each in its own case with full colour slipcover matching the cover of the catalogue. Click here to order your copy now! Also keep your eyes peeled for exciting details of a second exhibition, revised and expanded catalogue, and special events in early Summer next year. Contact mid20C for more details.

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From Nova Scotia to Notting Hill

Browsing around my favourite junk shop in Notting Hill at the weekend, I chanced upon these rather sweet 1950s style salt and pepper shakers. With a speckly grey background and a handpainted design of stylised, angular fish I thought they were typical of the 1950s. Turning them over, I saw the bases were nicely inscribed ‘Lorenzen Lantz Nova Scotia’. Ernst & Alma Lorenzen first began potting as a hobby in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1945. Demand led to a shop the following year, and in 1949 they moved to Lantz. As well as appealing domestic and decorative wares which increasingly collectable in Canada, they became known for small and finely modelled mushroom sculptures. More valuable than the rest of their wares, these regularly fetch over $300. I ‘m sure my salt and pepper shakers aren’t worth anything near that, but I do think the £6 I paid was a bargain. I believe in using antiques and collectables for the purpose they were made for, where possible, so they now grace my new kitchen table. I’d love to know how they …

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Memories!

I’ve just been sent this picture from a dear friend who spotted it in, weirdly, Woman’s Weekly. Seeing it instantly brought back floods of happy memories of working at Bonhams on Lot’s Road in Chelsea – my first proper job after university. It also made me giggle a bit, as my first boss Alexander Crum Ewing is shown on the rostrum without his trademark ginger beard! When was this taken?! I’m lucky enough to be able to say that Alex is still a very good friend of mine, even though he has now left the auction business. He’s taken his formidable skills to a completely different market, and now runs the superb Indian Dining Club in South London. If you want a damn good curry, and I mean a really damn good and authentic curry, then pop in for a visit. With Alex as the genial and convivial host and a fantastic and varied menu, I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.

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Fat Lava Exhibition in Germany

It’s taken a while for Fat Lava to start to move out of the realms of haus greuel to object of desire in Germany, but it seems the dawn has broken at last! An exhibition of Scheurich ceramics from the 1950s, 60s & 70s opened at the town museum of Miltenburg on the 10th October 2008, and runs until the 18th January 2009. Click here to visit their site and find out more, or click here to download the pdf flyer, from which this image is taken. From the many emails I have received from German fans who have visited already, it sounds like a truly great exhibition. I just wish I could see it! If you do go, please leave comments on this post so that we can all hear about your experiences.

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Antiques In Buenos Aires II

A note about days, before I continue my Buenos Aires collecting blog. Plan your visit well! The main day for browsing and buying is Sunday. On Mondays, and often Saturdays, many of not all stores, malls and arcades are closed. You’ll notice that my last blog entry was on Tuesday – plenty of time to plan my big Sunday! I almost couldn’t believe my eyes – the street had come alive! The previously empty pavements of Defensa were filled with all manner of street traders, and the road with crowds of people. Anything related to Argentina’s best export – beef – was for sale from moccasins to bags to wallets, and a whole lot more carnival style items. In fact the event felt m0re like a carnival than a street market, complete with street musicians and entertainers. And it went on for miles…! Fighting through the happy crowds down the street, I saw the stores and arcades were packed and enjoying a healthy trade with souvenir hunters a plenty. Read More