He began his love affair with glass as a small boy, gazing with fascination at the colourful, magical twists contained in the marbles he played with. Later, as a 17-year-old apprentice with Wedgwood Glass of Kings Lynn, Norfolk, he remembers asking the master glassblowers how the intricately designed glasses he had seen at the museums were made. None of them could tell him.
It struck him then just how many skills of the 18th century were being lost as more and more machines were introduced to glassmaking, and he determined right then to figure out how they were made and to see if he could learn the techniques himself. On many trips to the museum, without being able to pick up the glasses, he peered into the display cabinets and took notes. After seven years of trial and error at the factory during his lunch breaks, he succeeded in perfecting a technique of embedding coloured glass canes and air into the stems of glassware – a technique not used commercially since Victorian times.
Mike went on to spend 11 years with Wedgwood, training under master glassblowers from the UK, Italy, Austria, Germany and Scandinavia, and attaining the position of master glass blower and coloured animal maker.
At his studio in Selkirk, Mike produces designs with cane-working techniques, creating traditional contemporary glassware styles based on the designs of 16th and 17th century Venice and 18th century England. He created his flagship technique of “vetro”, the Italian for glass, which demonstrates the combination of his natural talent for design with the highest level of technical skill. The result is a vast array of colour in design that speaks of his unique relationship with glass; the glass on the blowing iron becomes one with Mike as, with a sense of ease and speed, the molten glass is commanded into form – his “vetro”.
Mike has received high recognition and exhibited his work throughout Scotland and England. As well as a commission for Lord and Lady Milburn of Paxton House, Berwick-on-Tweed, he was invited to provide reproduction glasses for the Hornblower series on ITV, and he designed the trophies for the Scottish Businesswomen’s Association Awards in 1998 and 1999. His beautiful creations are stocked at the most exclusive outlets: Asprey and Garrards, New York and London, Harrods of Knightsbridge, The Room in Chelsea, Wing On Hong Kong, and Cameo in Paris.