Spring Newsletter

Welcome to the 1st newsletter of 2012.


Editors comment (or Syd's Ramblings)

The Olympics, Knickers and Glass

In the last few months there has been a lot of talk about British Made products, not least because of the Olympics and Mary Portas with her Channel 4 show 'Mary's Bottom Line'.

According to an investigation by the Daily Mail, 91% of London 2012 souvenirs will be made abroad, with two thirds coming from China. Even famous names such as Wedgwood and Royal Doulton have used overseas factories to produce their mementoes of the Games. Needless to say this has upset a lot of companies who manufacture in the UK

On top of this, 'business green' say; "the organisers of London's 2012 Olympic Games have been accused of failing to reinforce their own sustainable food sourcing pledge, after it was confirmed that McDonald's will be exempt from a requirement to source all its chicken from Britain for this summer's Games."

I could go on, but I'd rather emphasise the positive, so:

Merrythought, Britain's oldest - and only - teddy bear factory, are making the official Team GB Teddy Bear for the Olympics.

John Lewis has announced the launch of a Made in the UK label to support British manufacturing. The chain said the symbol would appear on 4,000 products from early 2012 to highlight the sale of goods from over 130 UK companies.

Some of the largest clothes retailers are also encouraging consumers to buy British-made products and intend to move some production back to the UK because of rising labour costs in China and because retailers are able to get a quick turnaround of four to six weeks - compared to 12 weeks in the Far East - and they are able to order smaller quantities. However Paul Kendrick, group development director said, "A skills shortage is hampering UK clothing manufacturing. "If I wanted 3,000 tops tomorrow, there's no-one to make them due to a shortage of workers in the sector,"

June 2012 is ‘Great British Furniture Month’ – a co-ordinated and dedicated month celebrating and promoting the Great British Furniture Campaign and its manufacturers.

Then, later in the year, new brand event Best of Britannia (BOB) will feature iconic and emerging British companies that design or manufacture in the UK. Only companies that support UK manufacturing will be selected to show at the event and all products will have been made in Britain.

Finally, in Stourbridge, a town where the glassmaking industry was decimated and the glass making and engraving skills believed to have been lost, a new project is underway which will demonstrate the outstanding skills of the local glass craftsmen and women. More on this below

Perhaps what we need is something akin to the 1851 Great Exhibition to showcase British made products.

On with the newsletter.

Company Profile:

The Stourbridge Twenty Twelve Portland Vase Project

A new project has been launched to create a 21st Century replica of the famous Portland Vase.
The 'Stourbridge Twenty Twelve Portland Vase', will see a replica of one of the most important pieces of glass in history; The Portland Vase.

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A new project has been launched to create a 21st Century replica of the famous Portland Vase.

The Portland Vase is the most important and well-known piece of ancient Roman glass. Intricately carved, it is made of cameo glass and thought to have been made in Rome some time between AD 5-25.

The Portland vase was brought to England from Italy in 1783 and, after seeing it Josiah Wedgewood determined to make a copy.
In 1789, after four years of painstaking trials he managed to reproduce the original, in his signature Jasperware.

However, it wasn't until 1876 that a copy was made in glass.

Two employees at The Red House Glassworks at Wordsley in Stourbridge took up a challenge laid down by the owner Benjamin Richardson who offered a £1000 prize to anyone who could duplicate its cameo-work in glass.

Philip Pargeter made the copy, after overcoming the technical problems of making cased glass so that the glass wouldn't fracture during cutting. John Northwood engraved it. The carving took 3 years to complete and the vase caused a sensation.

Using modern day skills, The 'Stourbridge Twenty Twelve Portland Vase' project aims to create a replica of one of the most important pieces of glass in history.

I took a few hours out to talk to Ian Dury, the owner of Stourbridge Glass Engravers and Terri Colledge cameo engraver about their project and to take a few photographs.

Ian said "although the publicity has primarily foccused on the Portland vase, the team are trying to create replicas of three of the most famous pieces of glass in antiquity: The Portland Vase, the Amphora Portland Vase and the Auldjo Jug.
Add to this, the original Portland vase was damaged and a replacement cameo base was attached. A replica of this replacement base is also to be made.

The vase was blown on 24th September 2011 by glassmaker Richard Golding (the founder of Okra Glass) with the support of a specialist team based at Ruskin Glass Centre in Stourbridge.

Terri Colledge has been engraving the vase and it should be completed in time for the International Festival of Glass in August 2012.

Terri is a glass painter and cameo engraver and is regarded as a master in the art of glass decoration, her skilled work is collected and admired worldwide.

For more information and examples of her work see: Terri Colledge Cameo Glass.

Terri with the part-finished vase

Sample glass showing the white overlay and also working drawings of the decoration

The project has also gained the support of the British Museum and Corning Museum of Glass, USA.

And, what makes this project even more significant is that it will be in celebration of 400 years of glassmaking in Stourbridge.

The photograph to the left, shows a cut-through of the cased glass clearly showing the white overlay which has to be removed and carved to create the raised decoration. Underneath the sample, are working drawings taken from the original Portland Vase.

For more information please see:
The Stourbridge Twenty Twelve Portland Vase Project
Portland Vase Replica Blank successfully Blown

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Latest Sites

Kirkpatrick Ltd - founded in 1855 in Walsall and remains there to this day as the only remaining UK manufacturer of Antique style Black Ironmongery.
Kirkpatrick Ltd

PJ Pan - the home of luxury cotton nightwear for ladies, men, teenagers and children.
Launched in 2008, the collection includes pyjamas, pyjama bottoms, nightshirts and pyjama shorts in a range of stylish and original designs.
PJ Pan

British Luxury Gifts - sell a range of Luxury British gifts that include high quality, handmade, collectable GB Teddy Bears; handmade English candles in a tin; Berkeley Square Toiletries and contemporary British made and British designed Triggerfish slippers.
British Luxury Gifts

Bisoux - The ultimate collection of individually hand-made luxury aromatherapy candles and warm oil body candles

Names In Lights - make bespoke hand crafted light sculptures. The effect is extraordinary, it's as if rainbows have been harnessed to the rippling fire of the aurora and captured within blocks of crackled ice.
Names In Lights

JS Installations - are a Design Supply and Installation Service for Kitchens, Bedrooms & Bathrooms. Our suppliers are British Manufacturers and we actively promote, support and use British Manufacturers whenever we can.
JS Installations

Meridian upholstery - have over 125 years combined experience, backed by our inception into the Guild of Master Craftsmen so you can be sure your furniture, antique or modern, is in safe and knowledgeable hands.
Meridian upholstery

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