For over fifty years the Harris family has been involved in the design and manufacture of outstanding decorative studio glass. The work that is produced by Isle of Wight Studio Glass emanates from the design genius of it’s British founder, Michael Harris (1933-1994), a prodigiously talented and pioneering designer and craftsman. Michael graduated from the Royal College of Art with first class honours in 1959 and later became an RCA tutor, setting up hot glass facilities there in 1967. The following year he founded Mdina Glass in Malta, remaining there until 1972, when he moved back to the UK. Together with his wife Elizabeth, in 1973 he founded Isle Of Wight Studio Glass, setting up the studio in a picturesque location at Old Park, St Lawrence. He continued with this highly successful venture until his premature death in 1994.
His two sons, Timothy and Jonathan, have each become innovative glass designers and master craftsmen in their own right, Timothy mainly working with hot glass, and Jonathan as an engraver and carver. In 1999 Jonathan established Jonathan Harris Glass in Ironbridge, Shropshire, whilst Timothy remained with Isle of Wight Studio Glass, continuing after the death of his father as the creative energy, master craftsman and managing director. Sadly at the end of 2012, the original company was forced into liquidation, and it seemed likely that the family tradition, at least on the Isle of Wight, would come to an end.
However at this juncture Michael Harris’s younger brother Richard, who previously had no connection with the studio, stepped in and acquired most of the assets of the old company. In March 2013 Timothy and Richard set up a new company, Isle of Wight Studio Glass (2013) Ltd, subsequently acquiring the original name of Isle of Wight Studio Glass Ltd.
Richard and Timothy, assisted by Timothy’s mother Elizabeth and by Ron and Ann Wheeler of Artius Glass, began working towards re-establishing the family firm on the Isle of Wight and continuing with the manufacture of this aesthetic and outstanding product. The Old Park premises were no longer considered suitable and a site for a new studio was identified at Arreton Barnes Craft Village, near Newport. The task of dismantling the existing studio and storing the large pieces of equipment was completed in May 2013, and work started on building the new studio and gallery in June. Glassmaking commenced at Arreton in March 2014 and since then has continued apace.