Small beginnings

07 Nov 2015 22:42
Tags amphora artiusglass beginning firstpiece markhill ronwheeler summerfruits vase

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So when did it all begin? Actually it can be pinned down to a specific date: 22nd January 2008. That was the date of purchase of a small Summer Fruits 'Mulberry' amphora pot via eBay. I knew nothing about Isle of Wight Studio Glass at the time. All I knew was that I liked it and wanted to find out more. I searched for the studio online and was amazed by their designs.

Small Summer Fruits Mulberry amphora vase, the first item bought for the museum

A week later I had added four more pieces to the collection: a Mosaic globe perfume bottle bought directly from the studio; a Tortoiseshell globe vase; a Wild Garden 'Sweet Violet' flask perfume bottle; and a tall amphora Undercliff 'Night' vase.

I was hooked!

Coming from an academic publishing background I approached my collecting like a research project. Who were the Harris family? When did the studio start? What did they make and when? What was common and what was rare? What techniques were used in the glass making?

I didn't have answers to any of these questions but I was determined to find out. Mark Hill had recently published his excellent book on Michael Harris and his work at Mdina in Malta and the St. Lawrence studio on the Isle of Wight until 1994 and that gave me a head start. In fact it spurred me on to find out more.

First and foremost I wanted to share and communicate what I had found out with others. Therefore I started a web site for collectors of Isle of Wight Studio Glass on 2nd March 2008, not even six weeks after starting to collect glass. My aim was not to duplicate what Mark had done, but to complement his book by providing a resource for collectors covering all eras of the studio's production. It was my way of learning too. And I had a LOT to learn. My approach was to listen carefully to those who knew more than me, like Ron Wheeler of Artius Glass.

You might be asking how I know exactly when things happened? Well, my training as a taxonomist at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh meant I was almost compelled to classify things and to document everything!

Isle of Wight Glass Museum is a result of wanting to connect with the public: to educate, to be sure, but also to amaze and delight in the amazing craftsmanship of glass makers on the Isle of Wight. And it all started with a small Summer Fruits 'Mulberry' amphora pot. Who would have predicted that in 2008?

by Anton Doroszenko, Museum Director

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