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Hellebore sp. An early bloom in the grounds of Chilford Hall

A GREAT DISPLAY by Robert Bevan Jones

This article is very late due to various commitments. However, the story of the Fair is always worth reporting on. Last year Jindrich found Jan Cerny sculptures for sale here, Exbor pieces and Skrdlovice! The excellent foyer display organised by glass dealers and authorities, Danny Walker and Nigel Benson, was of Post War Czech glass last year and contained painted glass by Libensky, fine cut works by Svarc and Zahour, as can be read about in the czsklo archive.

The 19th Cambridge Glass Fair in England took place on Sunday 26th February at Chilford Hall Vineyard, Linton, Cambs CB21 4LE. Obviously it was a lucky year for Czech glass last year. this event was clearly more British, though quality pieces from around the world were on sale at many of the hundred tables of wares.

The foyer exhibition for this fair was a fine collection of British engraved drinking glasses from 1770-1850 and will be curated by Timothy Mills and Robert Marris. Jindrich and I arrived slightly late, a closed road having diverted us from efficiency. Firstly we went to speak to the dealers and glassmakers who we had met on previous occasions. We found some quality Czech pieces on the stall of Glass Fair regular Graham Hudson who always has a friendly approach to fellow glass collectors and he evidently enjoys the events and meeting faces, old and new. We enjoyed talking to him about some CZ attributions and learnt from him a little more about the English factory Whitefriars, a large green bowl (visible in picture) he had on his stall was a rare example of its kind.

Graham also had 1950's Skrdlovice designed by Emanuel and Jaroslav Beranek, some ZBS, a lovely 1970's Palecek vase too. A good start for us.

Richard Anderson and Wolfie Rayner again had a fine Czech display. Last year Jindrich almost acquired a small Rosenthal piece designed by Pavel Hlava, with his signature acid etched underneath but in researching it for two minutes, it was sold. This year Richard showed some fine rare Czech pieces. A huge Svovoboda galaxy vase in perfect condition stood on the table. A monogrammed possibly unique engraved Lipa vase also caught our eye. Also we were shown a large, fine crystal vase engraved by Tockstein, with a full signature. The engraving was very fine but the religious nature of the image seemed a little too powerful for us. As Jindrich said, "If it had been decorated with an engraving of a beautiful maiden bathing in a stream," "I may have been tempted to buy it!" Wolfie and his friends were also discussing an important possibly unique English Whitefriars glass company made so called "banjo" vase, estimated to be worth more than1500 poundsthat was on display. The possible theory was, that some left over metal from making paperweights was poured into the "banjo" mould, creating a uniquely coloured version, to be seen nowhere else, making serious collectors desire it, as this range of vases at Whitefriars at the time was only made in a few specific colours. A strngely coloured one, to a collector is almost unbelievable... After thanking them for their friendly chat, we left them discussing this.

Apart from Czech glass, we also saw Mr Vic Bamforth, a well-known studio glass artist from Stourbridge, who we saw working last year in the Ruskin Centre near Stourbridge, the historic glassmaking centre of England. Robert had seen Vic the previous week, making a vase to take to Cambridge. The technique he used is very interesting.

Firstly, he illustrates some of his pieces by etching a stencil effect on a small piece of glass:

This stencil of Vics' reminded me of the old ancient English woodcut printing technique, as shown in this 1930's woodcut by book and poster engraver Eric Ravillous:

The difference between them is, that Vic's image is drawn directly onto glass, not wood

He then half-melts the small illustrated piece of glass prepared earlier, in a small oven where it waits, while he then blows a bubble of glass:

Then he attaches the image to the vase and heats them together:

Then he quickly rolls the melted picture onto the blank he has blown, carefully pressing to reduce air bubbles forming:

He then cases it all in clear crystal in a manner similar to the "Graal" technique, the thick coating of crystal creating fabulous optical effects. The vases are often deliberately made in asymmetrical shapes as part of his individual style.

Here is the same vase, as it appeared for sale at the Cambridge glass Fair just a few days later:

No two vases Vic Bamforth makes are ever the same and some pieces can take two weeks to produce. The speed required to melt the glass at exactly the right time for this piece meant that his friend Pate, another glassmaker had to assist Vic with the production at times, blowing in the pipe, moving the furnace door etc... letting Vic focus on the main task efficiently.

Vic Bamforth is quite well known for his pilchard fish decorated pieces, which he paints directly onto the glass with fireproof paints, then cases them in clear. His choice of illustration can be obscure and this is no exception. He came to Stourbridge from Hull, an old English fishing area on the east coast. He had this can to hand and though this fish is not caught at Hull, his links to the fishing industry generally made him think of putting it onto a vase and it proved very popular, each one he draws is very different and he makes them with pleasure. If he stopped enjoying doing them, he would stop he told us and paint something else. These are very popular vases and are a known "Vic Bamforth" design. After many years, he still has the original can of fish that inspired him on a shelf in his studio!

This is the story of just one English glass artist at Cambridge, other well known contemporary UK glassmakers attended including Adam Aaronson and Alastair Malcolm. Along with engravers and many vintage stalls, the Cambridge Fair was another event in England packed with a high level of interest for anybody interested in glass. The next glass Fair organised by the same team, held on 6th May 2012 at Solihull near Birmingham, later in the year, is already starting to look appealing!



Robert Bevan-Jones  3.4. 2012