Last weekend I had the great privilege of being invited to talk at the fourth annual ‘Studio Day’ at Isle of Wight Studio Glass. These days are always incredible fun, as well as hugely educational. Everyone is relaxed, the sun is usually shining, and Elizabeth and Timothy Harris, and the entire studio staff, make the perfect warm and welcoming hosts.
This year, my experience kicked off early, as I was booked in the afternoon before to make a paperweight under the guidance of master glassmaker Timothy Harris (above). I know Tim well, but I was somewhat nervous, as I have never handled hot glass directly before. All I can say is that my small audience said that my face looked like that of a child on Christmas morning! I’ll write more about this later on, when my paperweight arrives. It was still cooling when I left, so I couldn’t take it with me.
The day began with a warm welcome from secondary market specialist Ron & Ann Wheeler of Artius Glass. The 60 guests then made their way into the studio, which had been cleared for my ‘Take Five’ talk on early Mdina glass. I brought five pieces of early glass from my private collection and talked about how to distinguish the valuable and highly desirable pieces made from 1968-72 from the more common later pieces. Colours and colour tones, shape, and the way it was made are all important.
Tim Harris then took the floor and demonstrated a highly complex technique developed on Murano – incalmo. Here, two differently coloured pieces of glass are joined together, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Not only do the two different pieces of glass have to be an identical shape, they also have to be at the same temperature. Never one to make his life easy, Tim combined a ‘crizzle’ glass with a colourless glass rim, and then span it out into a perfectly flat dish. Continuing the challenge, the piece would then be decorated with the cameo ‘Galactic Rings’ pattern.
After lunch, a ‘show-and-tell’ of pieces brought in by the audience entertained and educated, before Tim revealed his special ‘Day Piece’. A design developed specially for that day, only attendees are able to buy an example. If you didn’t come, you can’t have a piece, as that precise design will never be made again. It’s always fascinating to see how Tim arrives at the design, and the trial pieces showing his journey proved very popular with collectors.
If you haven’t been to one of these days yet, and you love glass, then you’re missing out. You can secure an invitation by joining the Isle of Wight Studio Glass Collectors’ Club – click here to find out more. And see you next time!