He started in the Leerdam glass factory as a lad of 13: Andries Copier (1901-1991). The director soon became aware of the boy’s artistic talent and Copier was allowed to study art in his free time. Leerdam, in the province of South Holland, is known as the Dutch glass capital. The town is putting the Netherlands’ most famous glass maker in the spotlight for a year.
Hundreds of glass objects are on display in a 15-metre-long showcase in Leerdam’s National Glass Museum. All are the work of Andries Copier, from mass-production designs to one-off objects made when he was an old man.
Visitors point out to each other which glasses they used to drink out of at home – often from the 1930 Guild range. It’s still sold all over the Netherlands, and it’s still being manufactured a short distance away in the same factory where Copier worked for 60 years.
Lots of other Copier designs are still mass-produced: beakers, ashtrays, carafes, butter dishes, egg cups. The line is clean and simple but you can see that the designer kept on developing.
The showcase also contains examples of Serica and Unica pieces, one-off products made by the glass blowers of the Royal Leerdam factory under Copier's supervision. His grandson Laurens Geurtz and Leerdam’s archivist Joan Temminck point out one object after the other.
There are the vases with craquelé surfaces, on which Copier used chemicals and various new techniques. There are even vases on the inside of which a fish or a horse can be seen.
To do this, Copier designed metal casts with which the inside of the glass was stamped before it cooled. He also made casts with tiny spikes, which resulted in lines of tiny air bubbles making patterns in globular vases.
Sometimes, Copier took his inspiration from the robust rummer glasses of the late Middle Ages. Between the glass objects, there are also the sheer lines of the plastic dinner service created for airline KLM in 1948. It’s a beautiful design which, like everything in the in-flight world, had to be totally practical.
Copier’s ideas didn’t stop and he carried on working. “He was the glass factory,” explains Laurens Geurtz. There were interviews and photos of his work in newspapers and magazines. He had shows all around the world. The Dutch royal family regularly bought his work and many a head of state were presented with a Copier as a gift.
He finally retired at the age of 70. For about five years he had his hands full caring for his wife but, after her death, he picked up his artistic career. He travelled to Murano in Italy, to the United States, to Eastern Europe to see how glass was made there, working on new designs with important local glass blowers.
Laurens Geurtz can remember how the objects were delivered home after his grandfather’s trips abroad. He was excited as he watched the glass being unpacked. Many of the works are to be seen at the National Glass Museum’s temporary exhibition, Copier: a New Life.
Copier carried on working up to his death in 1991 aged 90, inspiring generations of designers and artists. Laurens Geurtz has fond memories of his happy, loving grandfather. He regrets, though, never having talked to him seriously about his work.
He is making up for this by working on his grandfather’s legacy. Together with Joan Temminck, he has compiled Complete Copier, The Oeuvre of AD Copier (1901-1991)
The major volume describes as much of Copier’s work as is at present possible – because unique Copier pieces are continually surfacing both here and abroad.