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Judith Miller

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To the Heart of Glass

  • Judith Miller
  • 22 Sep 2010, 8:06 AM

I would love to be in Edinburgh between the 1st and 4th of October as there is a special conference celebrating 400 years of Scottish Glass. It will be held at Edinburgh College of Art and there will be a host of speakers from the UK and overseas as well as demonstrations of glass making.

It is the biggest conference on glass ever to be held in the UK. Among the speakers are Jill Turnbull, an expert on the history of Scottish glass, who will be tracing the decline and fall of the industry. The influence of Scotland abroad will be tackled by Eric Hilton, an important Steuben designer who trained at ECA. Paperweights will feature in several talks and demonstrations. The influence of Venetian glass on modern glass in Scotland will also be shown through talks and demonstrations, and Denis Mann - engraver of the Mastermind Trophy - will be engraving on the lathe installed by Helen Monro Turner, the lady who gave the glass department at ECA its international reputation and taught more than one generation of glassmakers their craft.

The 400th anniversary celebrates the date in 1610 when James 1 granted the first monopoly for glassmaking North of the Border to Sir George Hay (later the Earl of Kinnoull), who took Venetian makers from London.

The famous Amen series of diamond point engraved Jacobite goblets (one of which is above), made c.1745 are emblems of Scottish nationalism, although somewhat ironically it is assumed that the engraver of many of them was English. At a lecture on October 2, titled Jacobite Rebellion and Scottish Glass, by Geoffrey Seddon (author of The Jacobites and Their Drinking Glasses) the findings of research will reveal precisely who engraved these iconic drinking glasses.

Not that glass making in Scotland is over of course. Bonhams have assisted in the publication of a booklet about contemporary Scottish glass making and it can be downloaded for free HERE

Well enough about my former home and glass, how about something a little closer to my current home in London. Mark Hill has written a fascinating article about 20th century Geoffrey Baxter's Whitefriars Glass which traces its roots back to the 17th century glassworks that was established on the banks of the Thames. You can read more HERE