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Richard Golding

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Ian Dury of Stourbridge Glass Engravers co-ordinated an exciting project at Ruskin Glass Cente, Stourbridge as part of the run up to the 400th celebrations of glassmaking in Stourbridge this August. The Portland Vase has been  recreated in Stourbridge.
 
Richard was asked to recreate the Portland Vase blank.This was done by Richard and a team of glassmakers at the Ruskin Glass Centre, Stourbridge on Saturday 24th September. The blank was then  handed to Terri Colledge, one of the best cameo engravers working today, to carve the vase. This took many, many hours and Terri managed to complete itin time for the International Festival of Glass in August 2012. 
 
Richard and Merlyn Farwell of PyElectronics  been experimented with glass recipes in Merlyn`s workshop using a tiny version of the COMBO developed by Merlyn and Richard for Station Glass. Richard is renowned for his glass recipes and this project has seen him poring over his old "recipe books" to fine tune a batch mix that will get as close as possible to the original. Plowden and Thompson and Gerald Mann of Industrial Mineral Services are helping by sponsoring the batch materials and mixing.
   
A small number of Portland Vase trials (in iridescent blue or gold) were made for Friends of Station Glass whilst Richard was practising with handles. 
 
Richard, Terri and Ian visited the British Museum to meet Dr. Paul Roberts on the 24th August 2011 to discuss the project and examine the Portland Vase in detail. None of them can get over the honour of being able to hold such an iconic piece of glass history.
 
Several things surprised Richard, causing him to rethink how he he would make the blanks. The rim is folded and the detail of carving around the handles means that they can be made differently. The actual colour is interesting - a very dark cobalt blue which looks totally different with a light behind it.
Paul is the co-author of a fascinating book " Cameo Roman Glass in the British Museum" which gives a technical insight into how the Portland Vase and it`s lesser known "sister" piece, the Auldjo Jug was made. 
 
True to form, once Ian, Richard and Terri had seen the Auldjo Jug they decided it had to be made as well. This is the first piece that Terri carved and the result is amazing.
 
The blanks were made on Saturday 24th September 2011. Richard worked with a team including Steve Foster, Ian Bamforth, Anona Wyi and Merlyn Farwell. It was a brillaint day although at one stage we thought that getting a perfect blank with two handles was going to beat us. In then end several Portland Vase blanks, an Auldjo Jug and an Amphora shaped Portland went into the lehr and survived the annealing process.
 
 
 
Terri carved the blanks in her studio at Stourbridge  Glass Engravers at the Ruskin Glass Centre in Stourbridge.
 

Little did anyone realise when Ian dreamt of recreating the Portland Vase in Stourbridge exactly where the road would lead.

On the 22nd August glass enthusiasts from far afield, gathered at the wonderful setting of Hagley Hall to become part of history as the Stourbridge 2012 Portland Vase and Auldjo Jug were finally unveiled.

The romance of the Portland Vase has fascinated folk for generations. How was it made, who made it, what does it portray, why exactly was there an  attempt to destroy it?

What is certain is that over the years many glassmakers have yearned to recreate it's magic and earn a place in history.

The Stourbridge 2012 Portland Vase Project has shown the world once again that the glassmaking skills in Stourbridge are second to none. Timely, given the International Glass Festival's celebration of 400 years of glassmaking in Stourbridge.

The project's success depended on the team mastering a few little challenges along the way. How to recreate the glass recipe to achieve the right colour and co-efficient of expansion so that the vase didn't crack like the Northwood replica? How to get the handles right? What method to use when making the blanks? How to carve the detail? To acid dip it or not to dip?

Together the team did it and did it well!

Richard  dug out his old glass recipes and spent hours and hours in Merlyn`s workshop testing different recipes to achieve the right expansion and colour. Anona Wyi, glassmaker and tutor at Ruskin Glass Centre, came over to the Station to help Richard master the handles. Merlyn wheeled one of his electric furnaces up to Ruskin so that Richard could use the dip casing cameo method. Stephen Foster, Ian Bamforth and Vic Bamforth, Stourbridge Glass Blowers, prepared their studio and worked with Richard to blow the blanks last September. A team of folk did the early preparation works . And then we come to Terri!

Terri Colledge, Cameo Artist, started her career as a painter at Bilston Enamels before going to work with Richard . One day, when there wasn't much painting work, Richard blew a cameo blank, gave Terri the dentist drill which he used for cameo work, did a ten minute training session and the rest is history.

Terri carved the Portland Vase and the Auldjo Jug, another piece of ancient roman cameo glass displayed at the British Museum, over many, many hours in her workshop at the Ruskin Glass Centre. As far as anyone knows Terri is the first woman to have carved a replica of the enigmatic vase. Terri, now lovingly titled the Cameo Queen, didn't tell anyone that she had never carved figures! What a piece to start figure work on?

Graham Fisher MBE has recorded the project in his new book "The 2012 Portland Vase Project which is available from the Station.

This project has been magical. It shows what can happen if one person has a dream, mixes folk to create a team and believes. Unlike it's Victorian sisters our 2012 Portland Vase will stay in Stourbridge. Thank you Ian Dury for your generosity and perseverance. You have inspired a lot of people and your gift to the Stourbridge glass industry is priceless.

The 2012 Portland Vase, Amphora and Auldjo Jug will be on permanent display in Stourbridge. We think you will like them!