Monday, 8 December 2014

Crackle Glass by Chuck Simpson

Until now I've been only dimly aware of crackle glass, a form I tended to associate with trinkets from some European and American glass factories, and not something that appealed to me at all.  

So I was very surprised when this cranberry red crackle glass decanter appeared on TradeMe. 

The listing read: 

Cranberry crackle glass decanter with stopper.
Very pretty and in lovely condition.
Signed by Chuck Simpson 1989. 
Very collectible piece.
28cm x 10cm 

No-one except me showed any interest in it, so my bid was successful. Now it has arrived I can confirm it is clearly signed Chuck Simpson 1989, when Chuck was working at Inglewood.

I can't recall seeing any other piece of crackle ware made by a New Zealand glass artist. Of course, now I'm hoping other examples will show up.

An article by Stan & Arlene Weitman in Angela Bowey's Online Glass Museum  tells me that crackle glass is formed by immersing the glass in cold water while it is still molten hot, thereby cracking the glass. The glass is then reheated and either mold or hand blown into the shape desired. The reheating of the glass seals the cracks. On the outside of crackle glass you can feel the cracks, but the inside is smooth.

Having experienced what happens when a hot glass object is dropped accidentally into a bucket of water (the explosion put my young daughter off visiting glass works for a number of years!), it sounds like a scary process, but it does create an interesting effect.

I will be interested to hear of other pieces of New Zealand crackle glass. I wonder how much of it Chuck Simpson made.