Isle of Wight label

above: Isle of Wight label
on a small Meadow
Garden paperweight
made c 1983 -85

If you are looking for
Isle of Wight Glass there
is always some for sale
on eBay. See what there
is just now - click
Isle of Wight Glass

below: a small vase
by Isle of Wight glass
"Victorian" range with
black triangle label.

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Isle of Wight Glass from
The Glass Encyclopedia

A short explanation of Isle of Wight Glass:

Isle of Wight Glass was founded in 1972 by Michael Harris and his wife Elizabeth after they left behind their studio Mdina Glass in Malta. Their two sons, Timothy and Jonathan, trained with their father and became skilled master glassblowers themselves. The company thrived and over the years employed and trained many other glass workers.

Michael Harris was born in 1933 in Derbyshire and started his training at the Leeds college of Art, moving (when his parents moved) to the Luton College of Art and then to Stourbridge College of Technology and Art, right in the heart of the glass "soul" of England. There he met his future wife, Elizabeth Silvester and his future business partner Eric Dobson. After completing his National Diploma in Art and Design Michael went to the Royal College of Art in London and specialised in Industrial Glass Design. His plans were interrupted by the requirement to serve in the army for two years (national service), he married Elizabeth, returned to the Royal College of Art and graduated with First Class Honours. After undertaking freelance commissions for a short time Michael was invited back to the Royal College as a Tutor in Industrial Glass. Whilst there, Michael worked with some wonderful people, including Ronald Stennett-Willson (Kings Lynn and Wedgwood Glass), Bill Heaton (Whitefriars), Geoffrey Baxter (Whitefriars) and Sam Herman (studio glass pioneer from the States). Michael became the pioneer of the studio glass movement in the UK, and together with Eric Dobson, set up the small Mdina art glass studio in 1967 on the Island of Malta in the Mediterraneum. This was partly funded and greatly encouraged by the Maltese government on the understanding that Michael and Eric would train local people in the skills of working with hot glass.

This venture was a great success for many years, and gave birth to a significant glass craft industry on the Island. Mark Hill's excellent little book "Michael Harris: Mdina Glass & Isle of W[ght Studio Glass" gives more details of Michael's career and the beautiful glass he designed.

Eventually the government changed, attitudes in Malta changed, and Michael left Malta with his family. Eric Dobson continued for some time working with the local glass artists that Michael had trained. The Harris family started a new glass studio in 1972 on the Isle Wight, making some of the familiar designs and colours but introducing whole new ranges of glass.

Sadly Michael Harris became ill and died in 1994, but his family carried on and overcame many hurdles. Today Isle of Wight Glass is a prosperous and successful studio on the beautiful island it is named after. Michael's son Jonathan Harris left in 1998 to work initially with Richard Golding of Okra Glass, and to found his own glass studio in Shropshire in 2000. He is one of Britain's most highly-skilled and creative glass artists today. His brother Tim is the master glass artist with Isle of Wight Glass.

There are similarities between Mdina glass and many of the Isle of Wight designs from their early years. It is not difficult to see that the same creative genius was behind both studios. Amongst their highly popular series were Aurene (streaks of brown gold and blue), Tortoiseshell (gold and amber swirling around the body of the glass), Azurene (silver and/or gold leaf in the glass), Golden Peacock (usually white with coloured trails and gold leaf), Meadow Garden (coloured spots and lines) and Summer Fruits (irridescent background and applied spots and lines).

Further Reading

Michael Harris book 20th Century glass book 20th Century glass Millers 20th Century glass

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Below: a stunning example of Jonathan Harris studio glass

Jonathan Harris vase

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