The Studio Glass Movement
Up until about 200 years ago life for all but the very rich amongst us was hard. Miners typically worked a 72 hour week, children were at work in the mines and factories from the age of 6 years old and recreational time was limited to church on Sunday. Slowly a slightly wealthier middle class appeared encouraged by national social changes and earnings from hard work. With it came more spare time and with that came self-expression and creativity. It is a time when general education for all enters our story and when the first museums and art schools were created.
After the Second World War, many glass factories had employed designers to create exciting new ranges. However, in the early 2000’s, the industry faced enormous challenges due to the vast amount of cheap and well-designed glassware imports from Europe and China. The Stourbridge glass factories had very little time to develop ways to compete with this fast growing market and by the start of the 21st century, they began to disappear. As the large companies gradually closed down, studio glass artists and glass engravers began opening small businesses designing and making glass.
Many of those glassmakers were trained in and around Dudley either at the glass department of Stourbridge College of Art, or at the International Glass Centre in Brierley Hill. Some of the most internationally respected studio glassmakers in the world continue to live and work in the area and the studio glass movement has been coined the “new age” of Stourbridge glass.
To see studio glass artists at work, visit the Red House Glass Cone and the Ruskin Glass Centre where studio glass artists are still producing unique items of glass today.