Slovakian-born (1947), Stanislav Melis began his training in glass from the age of 14, at the Glass Industry Training School at Lednicke Rovne in Czechoslovakia.

Three years later he was selected to study at an art school at Novy Bor (in Bohemia), which was associated with an experimental glass factory run by Dr. Jaromir Spacek, Professor Oldrich Lipsky and Jozef Flek.

The glass factory and art school students investigated historic glass-making techniques and glass formulae, and applied these to make architectural and sculptural glass works.

After 4 years of practice and theory, Melis emigrated to Australia in 1968, but it was not until his appointment in the Jam Factory in 1976 that he could again re-apply his high degree of expertise in the field of glass.

Herman left the training and production to Mellis, and though his English was not proficient, the trainees and the Glass Workshop soon benefited from his considerable glass-blowing and factory production experience.

The period from 1975-1980 was one which saw the greatest activity of studio glass in Australia at the Jam Factory Glass Workshop, but it was not until Sam Herman left in 1978, when Mellis became its Head, responsible for training, design and production, that the distinctive format of training-through-production, on a full-time basis, was established.

1979 was a crucial year for the Glass Workshop, and considerable thought went into its re-organisation. This process was assisted by a 2 week consultation with Willy Andersson, a Swedish glass-blower, who had recently completed an 18 month period in Swaziland where he had established a glass production workshop on behalf of the government. Andersson introduced acid-etching and sand-blasting to the trainees, as well as presenting a report to the SACA. Sam Herman was also invited as a consultant, and to assist Stanislav Mellis through distussion, and fmal1y submitted a report regarding possible directions.

In July, Peter Sjoberg, member of the Craft Authority Board, presented yet another report containing a plan for restructuring the Glass Workshop. Further input came from Swedish glass designer Eva Aiemberg, who worked with the trainces for a week, and although she was there mainly as a design consultant, her style of free-blowing goblets was considered of great benefit. She later submitted 10 designs for use in production.

Metis also took a study tour about Australia in 1979, visiting various paces where he could observe and be involved in glass activity, including the Leonora Glass Factory in Newcastle (where he acted as a consultant for one week introducing new techniques); Nick Mount’s studio near Morwell in Victoria; the glass department of the Caulfield Institute of Technology; and Crown Corning Glass in Sydney.

Re-structuring. By the end of 1979, the Glass Workshop had initiated a number of changes in its first major restructuring process -one of a number in its evolutionary growth. A new, larger furnace which allowed the production of a better quality glass was built by the staff and trainees, and new lines were introduced, leading to an output of a total of 16 glass products from the Glass Workshop. These included a newly-designed tumbler, clear large jugs, celery cylindrical jars, cotton-twist goblets, candlestick holders, and limited series signed bottles for a local winery. Trainees also had access to the workshop facilities after production hours, when they could produce their own artistic pieces -as did Melis himself.

Having viewed the various glass studios and factories about Australia, Melis could confidently state that the Jam Factory Glass Workshop was, in late 1979, “the best workshop if its type in Australia”. This assessment was corroborated by a number of distinguished visitors, including a Ray Sanders from the Leonora Glass Factory, who spent two days there in mid-1979 and was “very impressed”, and by Les Blakeborough, studio potter and glass artist, who remained there for a week watching the staff and trainees work.

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