“Why is handmade glass expensive?”
Updated: Feb 1, 2022
It’s an understandable question, especially now when when so many cheaper products in major retailers use ‘crafted’ and ‘handblown’ in their descriptions. This is the tale of the cut crystal milk bottle, a piece designed to answer that question.
In 2003 I was doing a residency at Broadfield House Glass Museum. The main benefit besides use of the glass studio was access to the permanent glass collection. At first I looked around the contemporary galleries, but as the residency progressed I started to explore less obvious rooms. The traditional cut crystal had never interested me, but I eventually decided to look at the techniques rather than the objects as a whole. What a joy that turned out to be!
The cutting was incredibly skilful, created by craftsman using equipment far inferior to the machines we use today. The dazzling rainbows created by the light refracting around the cuts made me determined to incorporate the techniques into my work.
Cutting glass is very time consuming, therefore cut crystal pieces are costly. With the the cost of my work already an issue for some potential customers I decided to make a piece which would try to explain it’s price itself.
I decided to take a very common shape, a shape which holds very little value in our society, a shape we are happy to leave out on the doorstep for someone else to take, re-create that in lead crystal glass, then hand cut and polish the surface. By comparing the two, the mass produced milk bottle and the handblown hand engraved milk bottle, the gulf in quality between the two would make the price difference clear. They are the same shape, essentially the same material, yet two totally different objects. The quality of the handblown glass comes shining through.
The cut crystal milk bottle has been a hugely successful design and while I’m often asked if it is a jug, a vase or an ornament (it can be all three), I’ve not been questioned about the price. If you would like to hear me talking through this design process and see examples of the first prototypes, take a look at my instagram live post here. If you would like to see some of the cut patterns available now please take a look in my shop here