November 10 2011
Anyone remember East 17, the 1990s boy band? They took their name from one of London’s unsexiest postal districts. Walthamstow was an odd selection, unfamiliar without being edgy, but that’s where the chaps lived so that’s the name they chose.
E17 is also the location of the studio of one of the UK’s most talented master glassmakers, Stewart Hearn. Aficionados of Hearn’s colourful translucent vessels used to trek there annually for his Christmas Open Weekend (this year, December 3 and 4). This year, Hearn has decided to make his fabulous glass forms available to web buyers as well, with a new e-tail site.
If vibrant colour and simple, elegant form are your bag, if you love the satisfyingly hefty, slightly irregular quality of mouth-blown glass, discovering Hearn’s domestic vessels, from bowls to vases, will bring you great joy. Each piece showcases the consummate skill built up over Hearn’s nearly three decades in the glass game, as well as his eye for the effortless contemporary form, from his Saturn plates, ringed with colour, to his delightful “wobbly” soft pots and rainbow rim jugs (to see these, visit www.stewarthearn.com).
So far, only a handful of his works are available to buy at the click of a mouse, but more are being added imminently. Highlights of the present selection include the Westmorland lamp (second picture, £900), the base spiralled with colours drawn from the landscape of the Lake District, and the Encalmo bowls, Hearn’s most popular pieces, deceptively simple forms made by a complex technique that involves joining together two bubbles of glass (first picture, from £220). It’s not quite instant gratification – all work is made to order within six weeks – but it’s a whole lot less hassle than a schlep to Walthamstow.