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Glass artist Luke Jacomb says this Ponsonby restaurant is like church


Staff member
Dec 16, 2021
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Glass artist Luke Jacomb has just moved back to his childhood stomping ground, Ponsonby, where he says going to restaurant Prego is like going to church.
Jacomb first learned glassblowing aged 12, helping out in the workshop of his father, pioneering New Zealand glassblower John Croucher, and now, 33 years later, Jacomb is adjusting to life without his dad, who was also his best friend.


We live in a four-bedroom renovated villa in Ponsonby, just 100m off Ponsonby Road.

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Thats me, my partner, Tara, and her son Cooper (whos 4), and my daughter Frankie-June, whos 10. We moved here last month.

I was in Waterview near the zoo. I still have that house but I use it as offices, and I blow glass out of an old barn on the property.

The reason Tara and I wanted this place is its a much larger, more lavish house; all of these beautiful walls and lots of light everywhere.

The canvas is an early one from Jacombs childhood friend, Levi Hawken. Jacomb traded it for a pair of vintage jeans, some shoes and a piece of his own art. The egg-like shapes are part of the Alembics series. The pink face was a collaboration with friend, Owen Dippie.

Weve basically turned the house into a showroom of my artwork.

My mother lives just around the corner, and its nice to be closer to her, especially as my father passed away in September.

Tara and I have been together for about a year. The kids get on good. Theyre getting to the point where theyre like siblings: They fight like cats and dogs.

The pink Motorola, is by Scott Dunster, Jacombs production manager. Jacomb says it was a virtuouso process making the aerial without it breaking.

But, Frankie-June is a really motherly child. Shell say, I dont like Cooper but then shell make sure he doesnt hit his head on a table.

Frankie-June goes and spends a night a week with my Mum. They go out to Prego, which is our favourite restaurant. Weve been there every week for probably 35 years. Its like church for us.

They just have amazing consistency with the food, the atmosphere, and the service. The staff there have some kind of cult going where you cant be a dick, you have to take your A-game every night.

The Lukeke Design birds are displayed in the hallway, giving a burst of colour and movement as people walk past, Jacomb says.

Because weve been going there for so long, we can request things that used to be on the menu 10 years ago, and they make it for us, like a Portofino pizza it tastes exactly the same as it did 30 years ago.

My dad is really sorely missed by them. He was the dude, a cool Ponsonby artist. He would walk up and down Ponsonby Road every morning.

My father and I were best friends as well as being in the same industry.

The red licorice is by Simon Lewis Wards, another of Jacombs artist friends.

We would talk on the phone for a couple of hours every day, and wed go out for lunch three or four times a week. Theres a sorrow that you cant really explain.

I blow glass every day so in a way he hasnt really gone. Hes just turned into another material. I look at the glass I make and I see him in it.

I started first making glass just helping out on the weekends when I was about 12 or 13. Id earn some pocket money helping inflate the glass, or brharapg parts that he would add to it.

This piece is by Matthew Hall, who makes what Jacomb describes as retro Venetian-style glasswork, revivified.

Id also do some of the finishing work, like polishing.

I havent done anything else for 33 years.

Being John Crouchers son, people think you get a bit of a free ride, that I must be a silver spoon kind of kid. But, it meant I had to work harder to establish myself. People didnt make it any easier for me.

The yellowhead, or mhua, is one of the newer birds from Lukeke Design.

My dad said before he passed away that he was amazed at how skilled Id become at blowing glass. We collaborated on a series called Alembics up until he died, a very successful series of work.

So when Im up in Seattle next month, Ill make a new series as a tribute. Ill continue the work we were doing.

Im a glass artist. But I also started Lukeke Design to make things that were affordable, for people who dont want to spend $15,000, and arent interested in who makes an object you just think its really cool so you buy it.

Jacomb says losing his father is a sorrow you cant really explain.

I sculpt the native birds korimako, pwakawaka, hihi, ktare, teke, up to about 16 now and make the original before casting them. So its a mixture of sculpture and chemistry and engineering.

Tara is a construction manager: She understands form and the way things work. She has a really practical mind, and she understands colour therapy.

Shes good at everything. When we first started dating my superpower that I pulled out on her was getting her to help me blow glass. She picked it up really fast.

The confetti tumblers are made by Jacombs assistant, Kate Mitchell.

I found out she has an insatiable appetite for Christmas ornaments. I can make Christmas ornaments for her on demand.

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