Art Glass: A new kinda sexy.

Forget images of grannies knitting oversized jumpers next to a collection of 1970s glass paperweights. Forget the dull single colour vases made by uninspiring factories. Art glass has found its feet and has come back with a vengeance.

 

Some really exciting glass designers have arrived on the scene, both in Europe and across the pond in America and they are taking no prisoners. In America, the top glass artists are already household names, whereas we still have a way to go in England before names Like Peter Layton roll off the tongue.

Where did it all go so wrong? Britain was starting to take on the Venetian glass makers a few hundred years ago and then things slowly slipped into the doldrums.

 

 

 

In the nineteenth century things began looking up when Nailsea Glass workers, who had been making beer bottles all day, spent a bit of time producing Nailsea art glass at the end of the day before heading to the adjacent pub to sup from a few of their creations.

The beginning of the 20th century was a bit of a flaccid time in UK glassmaking and many safe and tame designs were foisted upon the general public for a few decades. It wasn’t until the 1970s that art glass began to get its mojo back with the work of Michael Harris when he returned from Malta to set up his Isle of Wight Glass studio.

 

Somehow, things didn’t take off in a big way and people were still filling their houses with ceramics and pictures of a woman with a green face. Like our culinary palettes, our taste in home décor was still a long way off. The sixties had started something cool, the seventies tried to carry the torch, but by the end of the seventies people were sick to the seat of their bellbottoms and the eighties started with a whimper, rather than a bang.

Art glass spent the eighties and nineties somewhat out in the wilderness in the UK, it was a subculture that struggled to get recognised as an art form and the closest people came to having art glass in their home was usually by buying some fine crystal decanters or cut glass bowls.

 

The new millennium seemed to really catapult art glass forward and by the end of the first decade it had become uber popular again with fine art glass being sold in boutiques and galleries across the land. The art glass bowls and ornaments were making it into the royal households and then everyone from the Cotswolds right up to Worcester and across the home counties suddenly had an art glass collection that they had been “building up for yeeharrs”.

 

 

Now the art glass is pretty affordable and many pieces sell for a few hundred pounds. The really famous artists like David Patchen still sell for thousands, so most of us will never be able to own such wondrous things.

The important thing now is glass art is hot to trot and available to everyone in a dizzying array of colours and styles. Not only will it make your house look hot, it will rise in value year on year and give you a far better return than any bank will. So get out there and choose some cute crystal or sexy sculpture.

 

 

Barnaby runs Boha Glass, an online art glass shop selling glass ornaments, sculptures, vases and bowls.


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