Frantisek Zemek’s Glass Designs

Now there’s a name you don’t hear every day. But it is one that you might hear more of in the future. Frantisek Zemek (1913-60) is arguably one of the lost great names in 20th century glass design, and was key to the development of hot-worked glass in Czechoslovakia. Starting his career as a glass cutter for the Inwald group, he went on to study at the Zelezny Brod glass school, and then under the renowned Professor Karel Stipl. He worked at the Chrìbska factory in 1949, followed by the Zelezny Brod factory from 1952-57. He was also concurrently the head designer for the Mstisov factory from 1956-59. His early death in a motorcycle accident in 1960 cut off what looked to be a promising career, given his influence in the 1950s. His most notable designs produced on a large scale were the multi-coloured ‘Rhapsody’ of 1956 & 60, and the green and blue ‘Harmony’ of 1959, but he also produced cut designs for Moser, and pressed designs for Hermanova. All were exported across the world. Today, his work is …

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The ‘Hi Sklo Lo Sklo’ exhibition of postwar Czech glass design held at the King’s Lynn Arts Centre in Norfolk has now closed. Over 4,650 glass and 20th century design fans visited to view over 1,000 objects during its inaugural four week run. On average, that’s over 1,100 visitors per week, and nearly 200 visitors per day! To see what you missed out on, click here to view some images of the exhibition. The accompanying catalogue is still available visit our Shop on this site for details on how to order a copy. Due to the staggering demand, it is likely that the exhibition will travel, potentially to locations in London and the north of England. Watch this space!

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Hi Sklo Lo Sklo Czech Glass Exhibition

It came around far quicker than expected, but the 12th July saw the launch of the long awaited ‘Hi Sklo Lo Sklo exhibition at the King’s Lynn Arts Centre, in King’s Lynn Norfolk. And what a weekend it was! Arriving late Friday afternoon, I my breath was taken away by the incredibly colourful display of Czech glass from the 1950s -80s. Even though I had seen it all before when the owner, Dr Graham Cooley, and I were researching the subject, it still made me gasp. A final late night dealing with the finer finishing touches turned rapidly into the morning of the opening. An exciting day of lectures and other events, organised by the Glass Association lay ahead… Within 15 minutes, everyone had assembled and judging by the smiles and animated conversation, they were mightily impressed – and quite right too! The empty room (seen here) quickly filled up as dealers, collectors and glass lovers came together to pack in as much as possible before the first talk. Graham took the stage and, as ever, …

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Go Sklo!

Well, it seems as if post war Czech glass design is very much flavour of the month! Could it become flavour of the year, and maybe even the next ‘big thing’, I wonder? With July seeing the launch of an important and ground-breaking exhibition and accompanying catalogue focusing on the subject, prices seem to be rocketing. Last night, the jardiniére version of this vase design sold for over £230 on eBay – more than three times the price the version shown below fetched a few years ago. From a range known to collectors as the ‘Head’ series, it was designed in 1972 by Adolf Matura, a highly notable and extremely influential Czech glass designer. Made from pressed glass, it was produced by the Libochovice ‘hut (hut means glassworks), which was known for its pressed glass designs and was part of the important Sklo Union group of factories. Despite apparently being mass-produced, this design seems to be incredibly hard to find – a fact that is clearly reflected in the price. I’m …

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Right on your doorstep

Too often we’re all guilty of travelling for miles to out-of-the-way places in the hope of finding that bargain that nobody else could be bothered to travel that far to find. Not only is it bad for the environment, but it’s also not always the best thing to do. A visit to a retro store in Kingly Court, right in the heart of London, and another to ‘Antiques on High’ in Oxford, yielded some rather good surprises this weekend, one of which is shown here. Designed by Josef Hospodka for the Prachen glassworks in Czechoslovakia in 1969, it’s got to be worth more than the £40 I paid. it may not be everyones cup of tea, but I love the combination between the organic, alien ‘limpet’ like forms and the mechanical, geometric form. The other piece was a rather lovely Chance Glass ‘Fat Belly’ decanter and set of six shot glasses, printed with the much-loved ‘Swirl’ pattern. These really are very rare things, being produced as samples in the early 1970s. I’ve only ever seen one before – …

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Agatha Christie

I’ve just had a fascinating telephone and email conversation with the curator of Greenway House, near Brixham in Devon, who was seeking some advice. Currently owned by the National Trust, it was the family home of Agatha Christie who is known, of course, for her crime novels. It appears that she was also a keen collector, amassing collections of silver, Tunbridgeware, Mauchlineware and art. Amongst the objects on display is also a collection of British and Scandinavian studio glass – including a number of items from Mdina Glass! It’s difficult to say whether the ‘Mistress of Mystery’ herself collected the Mdina pieces (she died in 1973), as her son and daughter also added to the collections started by their mother. Perhaps Hercule Poirot could be called upon to investigate? If you’re ever in the area, why not drop in and have a look? It’s certainly made me renew my (embarrassingly) lapsed National Trust membership. Find out more about Brixham House here.

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