Monday, 3 December 2007

An Early Piece of Sunbeam Glass?

This unsigned green decanter probably dates from the first period of glass making at Sunbeam Glass in Auckland. The lady I bought it from is certain she bought it in 1979 in Jervois Rd. She said "I remember going down an alley and here were these two or three glass artists at work." That would suggest she was at a glass blowing studio rather than a dealer gallery, and Sunbeam seems to be the only one to fit the description. The studio in Jervois Rd was behind the shop, shown at right.

Sunbeam was established in 1976 by John Croucher and James Walker, but operated a bit like a co-op, with a number of people involved and working there in a number of media. After a reorganisation in 1980, Garry Nash and Ann Robinson became partners with John Croucher, and it entered its second phase, playing a leading role in the development of glass art in New Zealand. But in 1979 Ann Robinson and Garry Nash weren't there. John Croucher has said "I don't know who made this piece. It could have been made by Danny Keighly, Ken Cooke, or myself (although I don't think so)." The glass has distinctive black flecks in it - Garry Nash has commented: "It could be any one at that time. The glass is coloured with chrome oxide or potassium bichromate, the chrome is highly refractory and requires a very high temperature to melt, without flakes of chrome metal precipitating out of solution and causing black spots. It was a common problem in the early days with every one panicking about the price of gas and fear that the furnace would melt!"

So it is not certain who made this, but it would seem most likely to be by one of these first Sunbeam glass artists. I'm delighted to have it in my collection.