The husband and wife team of Andrea Spencer and Scott Benefield produce an annual line of handblown glass, designed and made by them in the hot glass workshop on their north Antrim coastal farm property. Their work is made entirely by hand, without the use of machinery or moulds, employing traditional Venetian cane techniques to embed fine linear patterns into the body of the glass as it is blown. Scott grew up in the USA, although he was born in Japan, and Andrea relocated from Hertfordshire, England in the 1990s. Their diverse backgrounds inform thinking and decisions about their work, which is intended to be both affordable and functional; a small luxury for everyday use at the table and around the home.
The Object: Small filigrana jug, spiral pattern, first made 2010
12 cm h x 7 cm diameter at base. Handmade glass. £44
After relocating his practice from the US to the UK in 2010, Scott was trying to understand the subtle differences between the two societies — especially the role of handmade glass in material culture. This small jug was a breakthrough, of sorts, in designing something specifically for the UK market. The piece is blown by hand without moulds, a process known as ‘offhand’ glassblowing. It is made in several stages, as the coloured ‘canes’ have to be created first.
Scott Benefield on the Benefield Spencer Signature Style
‘This small jug is a manifestation of many things that guide our practice—the belief in the utility of craft and its place in everyday life; the cultivation of skill and efficiency in the studio; the reliance on traditional Venetian techniques married to contemporary form. The jug is uniquely at home in the tea culture of British domestic routines, although as often as not, it is used as a flower vase. The enduring success of this modest item also inspired an entire range of pouring vessels that now constitute the backbone of our production line — cruets, pouring bowls, decanters, and so on.’
Fragile yet functional, this work is a perfect example of the best design-led craft, with attention to detail and a playful nod to the Op Art movement. Adam Thow (Historic Royal Palaces)