Glass Newsletter September 2009 from Angela
Here is my September Glass Newsletter - I hope you find it interesting and useful.
In this newsletter I want to share with you my views on some hot topics, such as possible reasons for the demise of so many major art glass factories, the process of having glass made in cheaper countries but sold by UK or USA companies as their own, and using Whitefriars moulds to reproduce Drunken Bricklayer vases. You may or may not agree with me, but I think some of these things need to be said. There's also information about forthcoming glass conventions, shows, and other events; some recently published books on glass that you might have missed (all different from my last Newsletter); some glass from my collection which is now for sale; and our own glass publications. I do hope you find something here to enjoy.
What happened to the art glass factories?
Stephen Pollock-Hill, MD of Nazeing Glass, showed me a table recently of British glass factories that have closed down - and there are dozens of them. And there is a similar story in other countries, including the USA and Europe. Of course, it is nothing new for the glass industry to go through a slump due to an economic downturn or an influx of cheap imports from abroad. But some of those glass factories were so dynamic and seemed to have it all - quality glass, superb designs, a world-wide reputation, and enthusiastic collectors. I'm talking about Caithness Glass, Waterford Crystal, Perthshire Paperweights, Edinburgh Crystal, Whitefriars, Wedgwood, and so many others. They may still exist as a brand name, but their factories have closed. And yet others have survived. What is it about Dartington Glass, for example, that is so different from the others? And how did it all come about?
There were special circumstances that affected each of these companies, but leaving those aside there were some similarities. Competition from cheaper imports and the effect of mergers and take-overs are two processes that have had a major impact over the past thirty years. Take the mergers and take-overs one first. Back in the 1960s the British Government supported the establishment of glassworks to create employment in several remote areas. Then sat back and watched them flourish for a while and later fall prey to financial predators. Caithness, Kings Lynn, and Dartington were three of them. Their buildings and land, brand name and reputation, were all that was valued in the end. The jobs, the skills, the relations between people, careers, hopes and dreams - those things don't have a value in the world of high finance. This isn't a new story, and it isn't confined to the glass industry. But it is worth thinking about the reasons why Dartington Glass didn't close down, even when its merger partners and owners did. Wedgwood Glass and Enesco Ltd. are both now bankrupt. But the leadership at Dartington Glass had the financial and management skills to organise a management buyout - and they did it twice (once in 1994 and again in 2004). The people who really cared about the jobs, the careers, the hopes, - they managed to gain control and keep the glassworks going. Would it were so simple for all the others......
Out-sourcing glass by getting it made overseas
The other process that is worth thinking about is the out-sourcing of glass manufacture to cheaper countries. Out-sourcing is not something new. Factories facing large orders they could not meet have often turned to another local glassworks to help them out over the past hundred years (and maybe before). Designers have also had their designs made overseas for import into their home country. Ronald Stennett-Willson designed glass for Wuidart which was made in Scandinavia for import into Britain; Frank Thrower designed glass for Portmeirion which was made in Sweden for import into Britain; John Jenkins designed the Barolac range of art glass which was made in Czechoslovakia for import into Britain and the USA. But these examples from over forty years ago were going overseas because the standard of glassmaking was so high there - not because it was cheap. It was a logical step for Stennett-Willson to set up his own glassworks, Kings Lynn Glass, in the UK specifically to make the kind of high quality glass which he said he could not obtain in the UK at that time (1967). And Dartington Glass was set up at the same time and with the same aim - of making high quality Scandinavian-style glass. So when Dartington found themselves with more orders than their production capacity, it was quite appropriate for them to have their designs made in Sweden.
Was it so appropriate for them to go to Yugoslavia for their production a few years later? Their partners at the time, Wedgwood Glass, did not think so. They refused to accept the "Renaissance Collection" which Frank Thrower had specifically designed for Wedgwood, because it had been manufactured in Yugoslavia. This was in 1987. During the 1990s more and more British crystal and glass manufacturers turned to European countries to manufacture their glass, including Waterford Crystal and their partners Wedgwood. Was this part of their demise? If you bought an Edinburgh Crystal decanter in Scotland would you feel cheated to find the words "Made in Poland" somewhere on the packaging? Probably. But some people would ask "What difference does it make?". If the design is genuinely Scottish and the quality of the glass is superb, does it matter that it might have been made in the Czech Republic? Well it mattered to the craftsmen who lost their jobs in Scotland. And it matters to collectors.
What makes a piece of glass collectable? I'm sure we could all write a page or two on that topic. But I think we would agree that either it has to have been made by a respected glass artist or designed by a respected glass designer; and if numbers of almost identical items were produced, then those numbers would need to be limited. I don't doubt that almost any country given today's technology and support/advice from a major glass producer, will be able to produce high quality glass. I have seen the quality of glass on offer in showrooms in China (where they offer you three qualities of glass depending on whether you want the piece made in a coal-fired factory, a gas-fired factory, or an electrically-fired factory). They can make glass, and they can make superb quality glass. But is it collectable glass?
I don't think the glass artists who make and sign their own work have anything to worry about. To name just a few, John Deacons, Peter Holmes, Andrew Byers, Keith Mahy, Paul Stankard, Debbie Tarsitano, and many hundreds of their fellow artists around the world have nothing to fear from cheap imports provided we are not talking about deliberate fakes, which at the level of the individual artist are fortunately quite rare. But those glassworks where the design is their intellectual property will only hold onto their collectors if they either make all the glass at their own glassworks in their home country, or else produce it in limited editions. Producing quality glassware for a mass market is something different; and manufacturing it in some country like China to be packaged with a respected USA or European brand name still means that its value is that of the functional item, a decanter or a vase; but not a particularly collectable decanter or vase.
I noticed recently that someone is making Drunken Bricklayer vases from the original Whitefriars moulds, bought after Whitefriars closed down. They say quite clearly that these are not original Whitefriars pieces, and that therefore there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. But whereas an original Drunken Bricklayer vase can set you back hundreds (if you can find one) these are selling for less than thirty pounds ($50). This does raise some moral issues. It is not at all unusual for glass to be made from the moulds of an earlier factory. American companies have done it for decades. Tiara Exclusives built an empire on reproducing glass from antique moulds. Kemple bought and used moulds that had originally been used by McKee; Imperial bought and used moulds that had been Heisey and also Cambridge Glass; and tbere are many more examples. But almost always the company making the reproductions put their own makers mark on the glass or made the reproductions in distinctive colours that had not been made originally. The reason for this was primarily to be fair to collectors, who in turn were more likely to collect the reproductions. And these Drunken Bricklayer vases today do not have a distinguishing mark nor distinguishing colours. In my view that is not fair to collectors, and if anybody knows Barry James from Bristol, and if he is the person marketing these vases, perhaps he could be persuaded to add a logo or an initial to the moulds so that collectors can distinguish them from the originals. This was shown to be good marketing practice by all those USA companies.
Frank Thrower and Dartington Glass
There are two short articles which have just been added to the Glass Encyclopedia, one on Frank Thrower and his glass designs which is at http://www.glassencyclopedia.com/Frankthrowerglass.html - (click here to see it); and one on Dartington Glass which is at http://www.glassencyclopedia.com/Dartingtonglass.html - (click here).
If the links don't work in your email copy of this newsletter, you'll find another version with all its links working here: http://www.glassnewsletter.com/090920news.html
And don't forget we have a great page of Glass Links at http://www.theglassmuseum.com/links.htm - hope you find them useful.
Last month I mentioned the Designer Searches of eBay to be found at http://www.glass-seek.com. This month there are a whole bunch of new searches focussing on the UK auctions at ebay.co.uk to be found here - http://www.glass-seek.com/ukindex.html. Try them.
EXHIBITIONS, CONFERENCES AND GLASS SHOWS:
New Zealand - Wanganui Festival of Glass from September 19th to October 4th 2009.
A Highlight this year will be Josh Simpson's public lecture, demonstration and workshop, to be held between the 19th and 26th September. More details on their website at http://wanganuiglass.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1.
The Cambridge Glass Fair - on Sunday 27 September at Chilford Hall Vineyard, just south of Cambridge, UK between 10.30am and 4.00pm. More details on their website http://cambridgeglassfair.com/.
Indiana Glass Arts Alliance has its 1st Annual Indiana Glass Artists Exhibition at the beautiful Artsgarden, Illinois & Washington Streets, Downtown Indianapolis, Indiana 46204. It is open every day all day until September 30, 2009. An invitational exhibition featuring work by 13 Indiana Glass Artisans. More information on their website http://www.indyarts.org/calendar.aspx?id=11297.
Blackwell the Arts and Crafts House in the Lake District, UK will hold an exhibition of contemporary glass by leading artists in the UK, called "Catching the Light" from November 13th 2009 to 3rd January 2010. Our own Adam Aaronson will be giving the introductory talk, so if you are lucky enough to get an invitation, make sure you go! Blackwell is the most beautiful country house and the view from the terrace is superb, quite apart from the exhibition. More information on their website - http://www.blackwell.org.uk/future-exhibitions-0. They currently have an exhibition of Whitefriars Glass too.
Bullseye Glass e-merge 2010 call for entries for the sixth biennial juried KILN-GLASS EXHIBITION for emerging and intermediate level artists, to be held from March 22 to June 18, 2010, at Bullseye Gallery in Portland, Oregon, USA. Entries will be accepted online from October 1 until December 7, 2009. Over $5,000 in prizes; full-color exhibition catalog of finalists; submitted works must be made with Bullseye glasses and will be judged for excellence of concept, craftsmanship, and design. More details on their website at http://www.bullseyeglass.com/emerge/.
The British National Glass Collectors Fair will be held on November 15th 2009 at The National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham, UK, just off junction 6 on the M42. Website: http://www.glassfairs.co.uk/.
Corning Museum of Glass - Voices of Contemporary Glass: The Heineman Collection
from now until January 3, 2010 this exhibition showcases the 230 objects by 87 international artists that make up the Museum's recently acquired Heineman Collection. There are two other glass exhibitions currently on view at Corning - * Favorites from the Contemporary Glass Collection (until Jan 3rd 2010) and * Masters of Studio Glass: Richard Craig Meitner (until October 18th). For more information see their website http://www.cmog.org/.
China Glass 2010 will be staged at the China International Exhibition Center in Beijing, China, on June 4-7, 2010. Maybe its time to go over there to see for ourselves. This is a mostly technical exhibition of glass production and processing. http://www.ceramsoc.com/exhibitEn/exhibitEn1.htm
Events at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York are listed on their website at http://www.metmuseum.org/calendar/
Upcoming Events in Carnival Glass in the USA can be found on Dave Doty's website at: http://www.ddoty.com/events.html, and many thanks to Dave.
Depression Glass Shows in the USA click here- http://www.glassshow.com/Shows/ashows.html
- a listing with dozens of depression glass shows across the USA - really useful.
Glass Bottle Collecting Shows in the USA click here- http://www.glswrk-auction.com/ShowCale.html
- virtually every glass bottle collecting show in the USA.
The Broadfield House Glass Museum (near Birmingham, UK) has an exhibition called Petrol Heads which continues until the 1st of November. This exhibition features 17 petrol globes, a bubble car, motoring memorabilia and interactive activities for children. Open from 12 noon to 4pm and admission is free.
You can check out events at Broadfield House here -
http://www.24hourmuseum.org.uk/museum/WM000044.html or here - http://www.dudley.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/museums--galleries/glass-museum/whats-on/events.
RECENT BOOKS ABOUT GLASS
- in case you missed them. Click on any of these titles to read more about the book.
Rene Lalique at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
by Maria Fernanda Passos Leite, 136 pages, published by Skira (September, 2009).
Anchor Hocking's Fire-king and More; 4th revised Edition by Gene and Cathy Florence. 224 pages, published by Collector Books (September, 2009).
Warman's Depression Glass: Identification and Value Guide 5th Edition
by Helen T. Schroy. 304 pages, published by Krause Publications (September, 2009).
Glass of the Gerrit Reitveld Academie Amsterdam 1969 - 2009
by Job Meihuizen. 176 pages, published by Waanders Uitgevers (September, 2009).
Glass Working - By Heat And Abrasion (digitally enhanced 1903 publication)
by Paul N. Hasluck. 160 pages, published by Merchant Books (September, 2009).
Illuminated Art Glass: Featuring Kiln Cast Components
by Jayne Persico. 80 pages, published by Wardell Publications,Canada (August, 2009).
Vessel Glass (Excavations in the Athenian Agora)
by Gladys D. Weinberg. 196 pages, published American School of Classical Studies; Volume XXXIV edition (August, 2009).
Creative Beading Vol. 4
compiled by the Editors of Bead&Button magazine. 265 pages, published by Kalmbach Books (August, 2009).
Standard Encyclopedia of Pressed Glass 1860-1930; 6th revised Edition
by Mike Carwile. 464 pages, published by Collector Books (August, 2009).
Designing & Living With Glass Tiles: Inspiration for Home and Garden by Patricia Hart McMillan. 176 pages, published by Schiffer Publishing (May, 2009).
Deco Decor: Porcelain, Glass, & Metal Accessories for the Home by Donald-Brian Johnson. 239 pages, published by Schiffer Publishing (January, 2009).
The Mosaics of Louis Comfort Tiffany
by Edith Crouch, 312 pages, published by Schiffer Publishing (December, 2008).
Carnival Glass: The Magic and the Mystery (2nd Edition Revised and Expanded)
by Glen and Stephen Thistlewood. 216 pages, published by Schiffer Publishing (November, 2008).
The Wonderful World of Collecting Perfume Bottles (2nd Edition) by Jane Flanagan. 286 pages, published by Collector Books (November, 2008).
The Hazel-Atlas Glass Identification And Value Guide, 2nd Edition by Cathy and Gene Florence. 253 pages, published by Collector Books (November, 2008).
Glass of Faith and History
by Faith Corrigan. 120 pages, published by Eagle Creek Press (2008).
Celery Vases: Art Glass, Pattern Glass, and Cut Glass by Dorothy Dougherty. This is one I missed, so I thought I'd put it in here - published by Schiffer Publishing in January, 2007.
Books and CDs on glass by Angela Bowey Anything you buy here helps with the costs of this Newsletter. Many thanks for your support.
Glass for Sale
I hope you find something here that you would like. If you want to see a quick overview, you'll find these auctions at http://www.myglassauction.com.
Whitefriars - a neat ribbon trailed vase designed by Barnaby Powell in 1932, atill with its original label and in perfect condition - on eBay at #170384801343.
John Deacons - beautiful large size (3.5") millefiori glass paperweight with twisted glass garlands formaing a cartwheel effect. It is in perfect condition, - on eBay at #170384782438. With this paperweight you will receive a copy of my CD about Scottish Glass.
Peter Raos - one of New Zealand's most famous paperweight artists made this magical tidal pool paperweight. It is in perfect condition and measures 3.5" across, signed "Peter Raos 2002" - on eBay at
Glass Eye Studio - a lovely little egg-shaped paperweight in perfect condition with frosted pink and white flowers and a green base,. Signed GES 96 - on eBay at
Large vintage flower frog - star shaped to fit in a large art deco vase - on eBay at
Trademe - if you are in Australia or New Zealand you will know about Trademe. We have a perfect little perfume bottle by Keith Mahy on Trademe at #243019939.
Many of these auctions are put up without reserve and so far most of them do not have any bids. If you would like to see a quick summary with pictures, or keep in touch with the new items I am going to add, please go to http://www.myglassauction.com/
Searching for Rare items
I'm still searching for these rare Bagley Glass items that I have never seen "live". My list gets shorter as people get in touch about some of the items. Do let me know if you come across any of the following, please:
The pictures of these items in our book on Bagley Glass, are from advertisements or catalogues or design drawings. I am not even sure if some of them were ever made. If you have any information please let me know. And don't forget my CD about Bagley that now includes several original company catalogues including the rare coloured catalogue from the 1930s, the coloured Royal Visit Booklet and a series of coloured full page Bagley advertisements.
- trumpet shaped vase with flower band, registration number 790480
- bottle shaped vase with cut glass design, registration number 816035
- Acorn lamp shown in the 1937 Royal Visit booklet
- Art deco bookend shaped like a sail boat
- Art deco bookend with a curved top and straight line pattern
- Bowl no. 3186 which has been named "Scarborough"
Ideas to improve your website
Take a look in case there is anything you have been looking for http://www.webzite.com.
I do hope there was something interesting for you in this newsletter.
Very best wishes
The Glass Museum at
The Glass Encyclopedia is at
The Glass Links Page is at
The Glass Message Board is at
Glass Seek - Designer Glass Searches are at
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From: Angela Bowey
http://www.glassnewsletter.com - archive of my Glass Newsletters