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Recent visit to Malta and some (Potentially) new facts/ observations


Hi all,

I have recently returned home from Malta after spending 10 days there. To save time and effort reading I'll list a few things I found out from visiting Mdina Glass, Gozo Glass, Valletta Glass (formerly Mtarfa) and Phoenician, some of this information may not be new to some people but for me it was so I thought I would share!

Phoenician Glass

This factory is currently in the process of clearing all of its stock for a much needed refurbishment, as I understand it from the gentlemen in the shop the factory is currently not making any glass. Although a recent influx of money from the Maltese government has prompted Phoenician Glass to expand and will shut down for an unknown period of time until the works is completed.

The other glass companies in the Ta'Qali complex (Mdina Glass & Valletta Glass) are arguablely much more up to date and impressive to see, while the glass they produce is actually rather good their glass blowing area and sales areas are nothing compared to the other two.

Gozo Glass

Gozo Glass on the island of Gozo is in my oppinion (sadly as i do love Mdina) are the best glass makers in terms of patterns and shapes. They, to me at least are far more pleasing to the eye and remarkably resemble Isle of Wight Glass Studio designs in both shape and pattern. Ones to watch for future pieces!

They also have the smallest glass blowing area of all the glass blowers in Malta, remarkable the size of it, no bigger than an average living room but they have produced so much glass from such a small studio.

Valletta Glass

The factory that was formerly Mtarfa is the most grand in terms of scale, they have a large stock room and glass blowing area. Their glass is also on par with Gozo glass, but just a smidge under to support the statement I made about Gozo! Their pieces range well into the thousands in some instances and the skill required to make them is undenyable but vastly out of most peoples price ranges! They too have ranges that resemble Isle of Wight designs and in some instances early Mdina ones too!

Mdina Glass

Curiously I have always pronounced Mdina M-dina, however the correct pronounciation of the name is Im-dina, this is also true of Mtarfa being pronounced Im-tarfa, something the locals let me know!

I visited Mdina Glass many times, I spoke to Joseph Said on numberous occasions and asked him some questions about the early days of Mdina. I am aware of a topic on this forum that stated somewhere that Joseph Said never signed anything. This is however not the case, his exact words were 'of course I signed things, but over the years my signature has changed slightly and I could only tell you if a signature is mine by looking at it'.

 Intrestingly enough he spoke about crizzle stones and mentioned that the clear glass used to make them were actually old glass test tubes they bought over from England and the iron content within them altered the colours they used, which is why the colours used in crizzle stones are entirely unqiue and unrecreatable!

The 'chevron' pattern that is well known is actually called the 'Roman' pattern, both Joeseph and Olivia (one of his daughters in charge of production) referred to it this way.

Now more intrestingly, the shapes being produced at Mdina currently are very similar to early shapes that were used in the Michael Harris period. Though the patterns are very modern looking and not to my taste at all, the shapes are lovely.

Perhaps the most shocking revelation I discovered was that fish vases are still produced at Mdina Glass. They never stopped making them, though they are not a standard avaliable item and VERY small numbers are made each year they are produced. This year they produced 4, my father and I had the honour of chosing the pattern of this years fish vases and we chose the 'Roman' pattern as we personally had never seen a fish vase with that colourway before. We watched them being blown before the shop opened and were allowed access to the polishing room and stock room which is unavaliable to the public to watch them being polished and ground.

Of the 4 fish vases made 3 had the pattern we chose and the 4th a very new modern colour of blue/green with what appeared to be a gold glitter like substance in it. Not to my taste at all. Needless to say we bought all 3 fish vases in the pattern we chose and they were signed and dated by Joeseph himself, we know because we made sure we watched him do it! His signature is certainly very intresting, there is defintely a distinct 'd' at the end and you can make out an 'S' and 'J' too! This does therefore mean there are modern fish vases around somewhere, I personally have never seen a fish vase younger than perhaps the 80's so unless these other 21st century fish are to surface at some point I dont know.

But just a little bit of info, again, some of this may not be new to some people but I thought I'd share.

I will be adding photos of the fish vases and some of the factory at some point this week when I get time.

Thanks all,

This is a great read and very useful information.......
Your fish vases are superb. Is it possible to let me know the prices of these ?

A private message to me would be great if you do not want the price made public.




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