Thursday, 20 July 2017

A Tale of Two Wine Sets

In my blog in November 2016 [see ], I wrote about the wonderful archival film that has recently been resurrected through the NZ Society of Artists in Glass archiving project. In March 1977 English master gaffer Fred Daden came to Inglewood in Taranaki at the invitation of then almost beginner Tony Kuepfer, to show Tony some of the skills of the glass-maker. The film shows Fred repeatedly demonstrating how to make a wine goblet, and especially how to make the foot.

Quite out of the blue I was recently offered a decanter and four wine glasses. Together with a set already in my collection, they demonstrate beautifully how much Fred taught Tony, and indeed how good a student Tony was.

Photo: Greg Clarkson
These pieces certainly resemble the early glass Tony was making, but I wasn't initially entirely sure they were Tony's work. The decanters and goblets of his I have seen are quite elegant, and these are not that. Distinctively, the stopper is a hollow, blown form, and lacks the elegance of his later pieces.  So I sent Tony an email, enclosing this image. Tony is always friendly and helpful, and I got a speedy reply: 

'Yes, I am fairly sure they are mine… very early mine, before I brought Fred Daden down. They would be pre-1977. I was still very green then and only knew how to make feet for goblets by dropping a gather of glass on the marver [a flat iron plate], a quick flatten then pick it up on the stem. The design on them also is one I have done. Very thick and chunky they are. Also, I didn’t know about or use the cross pontil mark until Fred showed me, hence the more solid mark on the bottom.

All of which is very illuminating, and explains the chunky appearance.

In the March 1977 film Fred Daden demonstrates how to make a goblet foot, and it doesn't involve the use of the marver at all. A 'blob' (technical term!) of glass is applied to the bottom of the stem.



 After some forming, Fred then used a wooden pattern to shape the foot ...
 ... further shaping the foot with his tongs, using both the handle ...
 ... and the business end ...

with a finishing touch from a wooden paddle.

Tony made the set of goblets below after Fred Daden's visit. He had learned both the technical skills from Fred, but also a great deal about the aesthetic of goblet making. These goblets, with the decanter below, were purchased from an exhibition Tony held at the Canterbury Society of Arts in 1978 or 1979 (he had one exhibition in each year).

The matching decanter is typical of Tony's work after Fred's visit, and very different from the early 1975 or 1976 one seen at the beginning of this blog. It has a solid stopper, which is better both visually, and also allows a better seal in the neck.