three hundred years of collectable glass in one day

The Cambridge Glass Fair


Foyer Exhibition: A Confusion
of Cloudy & Combed

selected items of British 20th century coloured glass

A group of striped Nazeing 1930's vases
A group of striped Nazeing 1930's vases

The September 2010 foyer exhibition will be presented courtesy of the long-established specialist dealer and glass fair exhibitor Nigel Benson, who has a particular interest in this era of British glass production.

Drawing items from his own extensive collections, he will put together a superb display which will be both informative and interesting, giving a knowledgeable and detailed look at some of the similarities and differences in design and decoration of the art glass produced by various British manufacturers during the 1920s and 30s.

In particular, it is pieces by the Powell, Gray-Stan and Nazeing factories which most often cause confusion and there are also cases of mistaken identity of these items with glass made by the Scottish firms of Monart and Vasart.

A group of striped vases by Monart, Nazeing & Strathearn
A group of striped vases by Monart, Nazeing & Strathearn

Additionally, there can be some confusion of the work produced pre- and postwar by the same manufacturer.

The glass produced in this period could be described as art-inspired, much in the tradition of the French maker, Schneider. There is a link with that particular company through the glassblower Salvador Ysart, who first made Monart glass at John Moncrieff's Northern British Glassworks and who had formerly worked at Schneider.

The pieces that feature in the exhibition broadly fall into the category now often referred to as 'cloudy' art glass, this being most often a mixture of coloured and white enamels that have been finely crushed before being picked up off the marver and fused into the gather of glass which will then be used by the glassblower to make the vessel.

Group of cloudy pieces of one colour plus white by various makers
Group of cloudy pieces of one colour plus white by various makers

Sometimes the two or more colours are mixed and sometimes they are layered: this style is typified in the work produced by Powell, Gray-Stan and Nazeing. Nigel will both compare and contrast some of these pieces.

The coloured enamels used were also sometimes worked to produce stripes, festoons and spirals as well as combed or lattice decoration. This last variation often incorporated bubbles within the pattern, giving an extra dimension.

Featuring almost eighty pieces, this important exhibition will be a rare opportunity for cloudy art glass aficionados both old and new to gain a valuable insight into this popular collecting area and a chance to see some of the beautiful and desirable items produced during one of the most inventive and technically proficient periods of glass manufacture in the UK.

Nigel will be exhibiting at the fair as usual and pleased to answer any questions.

Exhibition cabinets (image courtesy of Patrick Hogan)

exhibition highlights

• A scarce Gray-Stan ginger jar with festoon decoration

• A Powell cloudy white lattice lampbase

• A rare Nazeing vase with 'lazy scroll' pattern

• A unique barrel-shaped Strathearn vase with red stripes

• Powell two-tone cloudy bell-shaped footed vase



Note: All images supplied by Nigel Benson