After completing his BFA at Elam and MFA in Design at Illinois, Mel studied glass at UCLA in 1975, with help from the (then) QEII Arts Council. He then came back to New Zealand to set up the glass studio at Elam. 1977 must have been almost his first year of production in New Zealand.
This tall bottle form was a favourite of Tony Kuepfer's - I have blogged about Tony's bottles previously. The earliest bottles of Tony's I have seen date
from about this same time - Tony signed few of his early pieces, and dated fewer, sadly. The similarity of form makes me wonder if one of them stimulated the other - I know they were in contact about this period. This is the only bottle like this that I have seen of Mel's, while Tony made a couple of hundred, he thinks - I have about thirty five of them. This bottle is 33.5cm high, much larger than the other Mel Simpson piece I have from 1977, shown at right, which is 9cm high, and also signed MEL SIMPSON '77, in the block capitals that form his more usual signature.