The Harris Glass Dynasty
"In the last forty years the Harris name has become synonymous with skilful and artistic glassmaking. The late Michael Harris was the first British studio glassmaker to work abroad, setting up studios in Malta and Gozo, followed by a new studio on the Isle of Wight, where his sons Timothy and Jonathan learnt their skills. Tim continues to reinvent new designs and products on the Isle of Wight while Jonathan has turned to cameo glass for his inspiration. His stunning cameo vases, bowls and scent bottles, with their wealth of imagery drawn from the natural world, have added a new chapter to the success that is the Harris glass story.
The cameo glass of Jonathan Harris can trace its pedigree back to the beginnings of the cameo glass tradition started in the Roman Empire two thousand years ago, and rediscovered by the great geniuses of cameo glass in the Victorian period including John Northwood I and George Woodall in Britain and Emile Gallé in France. Jonathan’s modern day masterpieces, with their innovative mix of cameo, graal and silver and gold leaf foil, are worthy successors already taking their places in top museums and private collections around the world."
Charles Hajdamach is one of the top authorities on glass in the country. He has lectured in America, Canada, South Africa and Ireland and has written extensively on the subject from antique to contemporary studio glass.
Michael Harris (1933- 1994) studied glass design during the 1950's at Stourbridge College of Art and at the Royal College of Art (RCA).In 1962 he was appointed Tutor in Industrial Glass at the RCA, where he taught for the next six years, setting up hot-glass facilities there in 1967. Leaving Sam Herman to take his place, he moved to Malta, where with Eric Dobson he established the Mdina Glassworks in 1969. Along with Vicente and Ettore Boffo, glassblowers from the Whitefriars factory, he trained local apprentices, making striking and richly coloured glass.
The designs and colours used were very distinctive, including axe and fish vases, winged-stem chalices and tall narrow bottles in blue/green, blue/gold and amethyst/gold. Michael Harris left Mdina Glass in 1972 to set-up the Isle of Wight Glass works near Ventnor. Some of the shapes used in the 1970's at Isle of Wight were similar to those developed at Mdina but are distinguished by the fact that they are more finely blown. Early colourways include Tortoiseshell, Seawood and Aurene, with Azurene from 1979 using gold and silver leaf. When Michael Harris died in1994 his widow Elizabeth and their two sons Timothy and Jonathan carried on the tradition of glass design at the factory. Today Timothy and Elizabeth Harris continue to design and produce high quality art glass whilst Jonathan & Alison have set up their own innovative studio in Ironbridge, Shropshire.