Factory: Skrdlovice, Czechoslovakia
Designer: Frantisek Vízner
Date of design: 1971
Frantisek Vízner’s designs for the Skrdlovice glassworks are united by their monumental feel, a use of complex techniques, and an exploration of form, surface texture, light, and optical effects. This vase, which has no real precedent, has a typically simple form, being a series of cylinders. The feature of a cylinder encased in a weighty yet balanced and proportionate base recurs in Vízner’s work, and harks back to the traditional gathering-on-the-post technique used for making antique bottles.
The rows of applied, rounded square chunks contrast with the neck of the vase above them, and explore the effects of texture against smoothness. On other designs in the range, they cover the entire surface of the cylinder, creating a contrast between the exterior and interior. Colours included green, amber-topaz, brown, and colourless, and the colours may be reversed on some examples, which have a coloured core and colourless applications. Collectors often call these vases ‘toffee’ vases, as the chunks look like lumps of toffee.
As all glass produced at Skrdlovice was entirely handmade, examples differ in terms of size, colour tone, and the precise application of the chunks. Although sculptural and able to stand on its own as a decorative object, the vase is also practical. Its monumental yet balanced feel is prescient of his later studio works, which further explore form, light and optical effects. As popular today as it was at the time, every collection of Vízner’s work or Skrdlovice glass must include at least one example.
6.6in (17cm) high.
This design, numbered 7117, is shown in Beranek & Skrdlovice: Legends of Czech Glass by Robert Bevan Jones & Jindrich Parik, published by Mark Hill Publishing, 2014, p.85, where the entire range is discussed with reproductions of original production drawings. It was also featured in Czechoslovak Glass Review shortly after its launch.
About The Designer
Frantisek Vízner (1936-2011) was one of the most important, innovative, and internationally influential Czech glass designers of the 20th century. He took an apprenticeship in glass painting at the Primary School for Glassmaking at Novy Bor in 1951, before studying at the Specialised School for Glassmaking in Zelezny Brod from 1953-56. He then studied at the Academy of Applied Art under professors Karel Stipl and Plátek from 1956-62. After graduating, he produced progressive pressed glass designs for the Sklo Union group of factories. In 1967, he became a lead designer at the Skrdlovice glassworks, before becoming an independent studio glass artist in 1977. His work can be found in many museums and important institutions and his studio works regularly fetch thousands, or tens of thousands, of pounds/dollars when sold.