London is hosting some glowing glass events throughout September. Blast 2010 opens at the Zest Gallery, near Earls Court (zestgallery.com). Admire – and buy - sculptural work by the Cohesion Glass Network, whose members give each other professional support and share expertise. Show co-curator is Adam Aaronson, who has a busy glass studio alongside the gallery (aaronsonnoon.com). Peep in to see him making wall panels, bowls, jugs, lamps and so on, with his team. His glass door handles and curtain pole finials are popular and unusual. On Saturdays, you can even join a glass-making workshop.
A huge flock of glass birds designed for Iittala over the years by the 79-year-old Finn, Oiva Toikka, is gathering at Notting Hill Gallery Vessel from 16 September to 16 October in a show to celebrate an acclaimed career of 50 years.
Toikka creates a bird annually, each a new challenge for the Iittala glass makers in the Finnish village of Nuutajarvi, where the glass master also lives. “Toikka’s vibrant colourful work is a refreshing contrast to the cool restraint of other Scandinavian design,” says Vessel founder/director Angel Monzon.
On show now in Mayfair (until 10 September) are lights and furniture by modern designers for London-based Established & Sons. They are made by Venini, the famous glassworks founded in 1921 on the island of Murano in the Venetian lagoon. Here highly skilled artisans – some are fifth generation glass blowers – have used the same methods and tools for centuries.
Rescuing beautiful old glass decanters, carefully cutting out the bottoms, and turning them into pendant lamps is East London designer Lee Broom (leebroom.com). Prices start from £295. Broom now has decanter scouts all over the country. “My lights are not limited editions but obviously each is different,” he says. “I’ll only stop if supplies dry up.”
A hunt on the high street this autumn reveals several arty glass pieces designed here and handmade abroad – at very reasonable prices. Leading the way is LSA International (lsa-international.com), where creative director Monika Lubkowska-Jonas uses the skills of traditional Polish artisans for clean-lined pieces, now with metallic and coloured swirls (from £40 for a set of four tumblers).
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen also uses Polish skills for an amber-coloured hand-made vase reminiscent of Art Nouveau for Matalan (£20, matalan.co.uk). Whilst fashion designer Julien Macdonald has created “art glass” for his Star collection at Debenhams (debenhams.com). Heavy chunky vases in swirls of purple or black sell from £12 to £38, made in China.
The shows to see, the shops to visit
* The 2010 British Glass Biennale runs until 11 September (biennale.org.uk; 01384 399410)
* Blast 2010, 9 September-6 November, Roxby Place, SW6; 020 7610 1900
* Vessel, 114 Kensington Park Road, W11; 020 7727 8001; vesselgallery.com
* Established & Sons, 2-3 Duke Street, SW1; 020 7968 2049; establishedandsons.com