.....thank you Nigel for the email address - very much. And for the lovely natter. It saved me a lot of time going round the houses. Thank you too, Mr Bernard C and Mr Marcus Le Casson....quite right - I'm not sure about anything most of the time and doubt an oft unwelcome but nonetheless very valuable old friend:
. With this in mind (not to mention Sunderland glass and pottery, a gliding reptile fossil and a tree canopy in Sunderland Museum floating tantalisingly through my head) I'll go slow anf follow the path of information directly.
Thing is - and I knew instinctively I was heading for danger - this strange little torn letter is hinting at far, far more than the sum of it contents so I've not been thinking too coherently - at least - not coherently enough yet to ask Susan Newell lucid questions:). So today, with the help of a 'man on a boat' and another in a 'silication department' in Oxon I managed to locate an ex-Hartley Wood worker by the name of Mike Tuffey who is now the owner of English Antique Glass (EAG) - here's his link: http://www.englishantiqueglass.co.uk/
Mike was lovely. Just lovely. He described himself as an engineer, an industrial furnace-builder now glass-maker, his career in the industry beginning in 1963. Mike maintained the furnaces at Hartley Wood, at Whitefriars, at Caithness - and has worked at glasshouses the length and breadth of the mainland (I forgot to ask about the Islands - pardon me). Initially there were 'multi-pot' furnaces says he, where different colours are under the same fire, therefore are heated at the same rates to the same temperature. As time passed there was a move forward to 'single-pot' furnaces which are far cheaper to run and allow for more flexibilty to heat certain colours at different temperatures. For instance, he built a single-pot furnace for Whitefriars that was never installed - the factory closed. There was a significant change in the glass industry in the mid 1960s but I don't know the nature of this - the furnace had gone out and bless him, he rang me knowing this - I did not want to press him.
When Hartley Wood closed Mike bought much of the equipment which is in use at his Alverchurch works now. An ex-Hartley Wood glassmaker called Harry Pryor/or Prior travels down from Sunderland to give a hand one or two days a week (I can't remember exactly). Nowadays things are tough - Mike says he could not earn a living from streaky or coloured glass alone. On top of his usual he carries out an odd commission, will work to samples, is involved in restoration work. He talked about a clear glass at EAG - 'water white and sparkly'.
That's as much as I know for now - it's rather wobbly - please forgive. Thanks to all of you and to Mike it has helped to clarify things a little - to be able to form the questions I need to ask first..........What does the letter mean? Who holds the Hartley Wood Documentation? And I noticed in one or two of the pictures of Hartley Wood vases the streaky colours are running through (to coin Mikes term - which spurred the question) 'water-white' glass. But in the two vases I have here - the one Hartley Wood and the other Powell, the streaky colours are running through a glass with a grey or very lightly smoked tinted glass and I wonder why this is - whether the tinted form is a deliberate manner of decorative treatment - to make the glass look a bit older or more authentic, the way there are deliberate bubbles in. Or whether it is something else or both. The ruby thing, too is fascinating.
Mike says it's fine for anyone to go and visit and watch - it happens all the time:
So I think I might pop along (if anyone fancies coming maybe we could arrange something). In the meantime I'll keep you posted and thank you again.