Monart & Vasart

The name Monart is a combination of the names of Moncrieff, industrial glass makers of Perth, and Ysart, a family of Spanish glass blowers from Barcelona, employed by Moncrieff from the 1920s.

Whilst working at the Schneider Art Glass factory in France, Salvador Ysart was recruited to teach the art of light bulb blowing at Leith Flint Glass in Edinburgh in 1915. He joined Moncrieff in 1922 to make laboratory glassware with his son Paul as apprentice and a year later began developing millefiore and paperweight techniques.

Most glass blowers make "friggers", hobby pieces in their spare time and Salvador made one such, a vase, for the local Kirk minister as a prize for a fete. Mrs. Moncrieff, herself a talented artist, well connected in London and Edinburgh society, at once saw Salvador’s potential and by 1924 they had between them designed and produced a range of art glass.

So successful was Monart that by the early 30s their two pattern books contained glassware in the form of flower vases and bowls, lamp shades, candlesticks, scent bottles, decanters and tumblers, ashtrays. paperweights, ink bottles and table lamps. As an indication of the popularity of Monart, many of the above items can be found in catalogues of Liberty’s of London in the mid 1930s.

By the late 30s all four of Salvador's sons were apprenticed to him, working exclusively on art glass, but as war broke out Monart production was halted and all hands turned to essential output.

After the war Moncrieffs were reluctant to restart art glass production and following the death of one son, Antoine, and a split between eldest son Paul and his father, sons Vincent, Augustine and father Salvador set up on their own to produce art glass again. This time they used the name Vasart, formed from their initials combined with their family name.

Salvador wanted Vasart to be substantially different to Monart but nevertheless the similarities of technique and decoration are strong. By 1949 Vasart was proving popular but the deaths of Salvador and Augustine left Vincent running the business alone by 1956 and production was declining. In 1964 Teachers Whiskey, for whom Vasart were making squashed whiskey bottle ashtrays, took over the factory and rebuilt it as Strathearn Glass.

Paul Ysart remained at Moncrieff's, continuing to produce a limited range of Monart art glass and paperweights until 1961, when new management decided to concentrate on industrial glassware. He eventually moved to Caithness Glass in 1963.

Each piece of Monart and Vasart is hand blown and the process at Moncrieff's involved Antoine (the youngest), picking up a ball of molten glass (a gather of metal), from the furnace pot and partially inflating it through the blowing iron (the punty iron).

This was then passed to Vincent who would roll or dab the red hot ball into coloured enamels, reheating and marvering (working in) several times to seal and distribute the enamels evenly and to force out unwanted bubbles from the glass.

Augustine would then take over when the parison (the partially inflated piece) was ready to have the enamels manipulated. This could be either swirls made by the tips of metal tongs and a twist of the wrist, or could be pulls or drags of different bands of enamels through each other. Stripes were made by blowing the parison into a ribbed mould which would create areas of separation in the density of the colour.

Bubbles were deliberately introduced by adding crushed charcoal to the surface just before immersing the parison in the furnace pot for a second layer of clear glass. The charcoal burns off leaving bubbles of gas sealed in the cased glass.

Paul would now inflate the piece to its final size and shape using tongs, wooden blocks, wet newspaper pads etc. Having overseen all the processes so far, Salvador would now assess the piece, tr