Author Topic: Early Mdina fish vase? opinions please  (Read 1339 times)

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Offline glassobsessed

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Early Mdina fish vase? opinions please
« on: August 29, 2009, 11:43:51 AM »
Bought this a few days ago (fleabay) and it has just arrived, for some reason I am having a mild 'crisis of confidence' and so I thought I would seek some reassurance here (maybe a little ridicule if I am wrong!).  ::)
I bid more than I could afford but having read http://www.glassmessages.com/index.php/topic,28191.0.html I thought I would rather "go hungry for a couple of weeks" than miss out on a chance of buying this vase.

So I think/hope it may be an early cobalt blue Mdina fish vase, anyone with a copy of Mark Hill's Michael Harris Mdina Glass & Isle of wight Studio Glass can check out page 31. Also on page 22 where the first cullet used in making glass at Mdina is mentioned.

Thanks, John.

Oops sizes, 8 inches wide by 7 tall, 20 by 18 cm.


Offline Lustrousstone

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Re: Early Mdina fish vase? opinions please
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2009, 12:48:40 PM »
I don't think you need worry. The underbidder and another expert I know are convinced it is  ;)


Offline chopin-liszt

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Re: Early Mdina fish vase? opinions please
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2009, 05:28:55 PM »
 >:D

Yup. We're not speaking to you. :P
Cheers, Sue (M)

“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” Friedrich Nietzsche


Offline glassobsessed

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Re: Early Mdina fish vase? opinions please
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2009, 05:35:47 PM »
Thank you Christine that does help, not sure where my wobbles stem from, perhaps it is a result of not much work for me in the last week or two and my resulting dodgy finances. I can't complain though as I have had a very peaceful and relaxed fortnight catching up on my  :sleep:.

John

I would be lost without you Sue!


Offline chopin-liszt

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Re: Early Mdina fish vase? opinions please
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2009, 05:42:12 PM »
I wasn't the underbidder and I'm not an ex-spurt :cry:, but my friend and I have been all keyed up about this piece.

We have been speaking about you, but it's not been fit for polite company.

I'm curious though, about what looked like the remnants of a sticky plastic label on the fleabay pics - not on yours. They would have been a dirty grey-brown if they'd been the remnants of a paper label. I simply assumed they had been the remains of a price sticker somebody else put on at some time.
Cheers, Sue (M)

“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” Friedrich Nietzsche


Offline glassobsessed

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Re: Early Mdina fish vase? opinions please
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2009, 06:12:44 PM »
The label remains was just some gluey stuff with fibres/dust stuck to it, it could once have been a tower and cross label but even the gunge has gone now as I cleaned it.

I really like the roughness and almost crudeness of this vase but it is still not a patch on your small colourful one Sue (fish vase ;D).

John


Offline chopin-liszt

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Re: Early Mdina fish vase? opinions please
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2009, 06:36:03 PM »
If it had been the tower and cross paper label, it wouldn't have been sticky - it had a dry sort of water-based glue - hence dirty grey-brown.
If it was sticky, hence fluff and stuff on it, is that not more likely to indicate plastic label, hence extremely wrong date for the period Michael Harris was there.... hence my assumption that it might have been a modern sticky thing, applied by somebody since. Sorry about all my hences.

(I still prefer my precious baby fish too.  :-[)
Cheers, Sue (M)

“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” Friedrich Nietzsche


Offline chopin-liszt

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Re: Early Mdina fish vase? opinions please
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2009, 11:12:56 AM »
 >:D
Didn't mean to worry you (much :P). While you mention crudeness (which there is), this would still have been an extremely difficult piece to make, requiring a great understanding of and affinity for the hot glass and how it behaves. Your pictures are so much better than the ones on fleabay - I'm sure Ron Wheeler would appreciate copies.

The "straps" which normally appear on Fish vases were a "happy accident", achieved when the piece was turned after dipping it into the batch to gain the partial casing, to stop it dripping/dragging. This piece is not only large, (therefore heavy) but somehow, this "dripping" has been controlled and done away with, but the "corners" are still lovely and rounded.

While it is a possibility, now that Mdina is well-known and raising better prices, that somebody may be attempting to make replicas of Michael Harris' early pieces, I really don't think this is the case here.

There is, as you say, the crudeness, but there is also the genius which shines through, of the artist mastering how to work in unison with the metal.
There is discord, but also harmony, glory and triumph. A full symphony in glass.

Is there much age-related wear to the base?

I'd LOVE to get my paws on this, to feel it (and caress it).
Cheers, Sue (M)

“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” Friedrich Nietzsche


Offline aa

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Re: Early Mdina fish vase? opinions please
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2009, 03:29:11 PM »
The "straps" which normally appear on Fish vases were a "happy accident", achieved when the piece was turned after dipping it into the batch to gain the partial casing, to stop it dripping/dragging. This piece is not only large, (therefore heavy) but somehow, this "dripping" has been controlled and done away with, but the "corners" are still lovely and rounded.

Double dipping of this kind is supposed to have begun with Harvey Littleton and his first students. But I think there are some late fifties Czech pieces using the technique and and I believe HL may have been influenced by those. However it is one of the first things that most studio glass artists try out when they are starting to experiment, and it is one of those things people do without being aware that loads of others have been through the same process.

Sam Herman is particularly known for double-dipped forms and after studying with HL brought the technique to the UK, where presumably MH saw it it the RCA and refined it with his own thumbprint. You can easily tell the difference between a Herman piece and a Harris piece. Both developed their styles in different directions.

As to the "straps", these can be controlled, but only if you want to avoid them. Arguably pieces with the "straps" are more interesting than without.

There are two artists who studied with Sam Herman who went on to develop their own double-dipped work. These are Chris Thornton http://www.somelikeithot.fr/ and Chris Comins http://www.chriscomins.com/index.html See also http://www.zestgallery.com/artists.php?display=4  for Sam Herman's work (see Z44 and Z62 in particular for double-dipped with straps and Z35 and Z36 for double dipped without straps)

*it depends on the angle of the blowing iron when you turn it after dipping. If you dip and flip the iron over you get straps. if you dip and lift out turning the iron at an angel of around 45 degrees the glass runs off and you avoid the straps.

During the seventies Daum made a clear crystal wine glass suite using the double dipped technique, called "tulipe" if I remember correctly, and these had no strap lines. They also made a vase.


While it is a possibility, now that Mdina is well-known and raising better prices, that somebody may be attempting to make replicas of Michael Harris' early pieces, I really don't think this is the case here.

If I didn't know anything about Mike and the Mdina story, and I were only looking at 80's onwards, I would have thought Chris Comins could have made this. I don't know whether he has ever worked or hired space anywhere where there is a coloured pot - like at Bristol Blue Glass. If you look at some of his eighties clear and coloured scent bottles there is definitely a similarity in form but I must emphasize that he developed this style completely unaware of the Mdina history, so far as I know.

I can't find my copy of Mark's book. Does the reference actually show it in cobalt? Presumably it does from the comments above, but if not unless there is a record of MH having made some of these from the famous cobalt pot, I would be inclined to approach Chris Comins if only to rule him out.
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Offline chopin-liszt

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Re: Early Mdina fish vase? opinions please
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2009, 04:19:48 PM »
 :kissy:
Thank you so much for this extra clarification of techniques and the extra info, Adam!
 
Michael Harris had a relatively short time with Sam Herman at the RCA, and so, early on at Mdina was really still gaining his experience with working glass. I would assume you are perfectly right he had seen this double dipping done, but he was really just having his own first "goes" at it.

Yes, there is an example of this in cobalt in the book, page 31, but with the strapping across.
Ron Wheeler has an image of one similar early strapped fish, in a cobalty colour, but believed to have been made by Michael at the RCA. It is much more lopsided and lumpy! The vase itself belongs to somebody in the states, who will not part with it for love nor money. I did see it when it was on ebay originally, but didn't know enough at the time to recognise it for what it was (very, very uncommon!) and assumed another would turn up after I missed bidding on it! :cry:
Cheers, Sue (M)

“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” Friedrich Nietzsche

 

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