Education News Unleashed

‘It Was Hypnotic; I Fell In Love’ – The Apprentice Glassblower’s Story

As with most glassmakers, my entry into the industry was serendipitous. However, I have since discovered my passion and cannot imagine doing anything else. Each day presents a new challenge and opportunity for growth, even if one has been in the field for years.

Prior to becoming an apprentice at Bristol Blue Glass, I completed a two-year diploma in video game design and another two-year diploma in creative arts. During this time, I worked as a cleaner to support myself. My friend, Reece, had studied business and had started working at Bristol Blue Glass where he soon developed a talent for glassblowing. The photographs he showed me of his creations piqued my interest and I was enticed by the ancient craft.

Upon visiting the workshop for a photo shoot, I found myself captivated by the mesmerizing process of working with molten glass. When a position opened up for an assistant glassblower, I applied and was accepted. I embarked on a course at Bridgwater and Taunton College with monthly visits from a tutor. Despite earning a modest wage, I was grateful to be part of such a unique and creative industry.

When the two years of my apprenticeship were over, I became an assistant to David Barry, the maestro who manages the hot floor. Each glassmaker has their own individual style, making each piece one of a kind. Although calipers are used to ensure the correct measurements, the free blowing style employed means that every piece is crafted by hand and is unique. The glass is heated to 1080C, the same temperature as an erupting volcano, and must be cooled slowly over 18 hours at 510C. Mastering this craft will take a lifetime but I wouldn’t have it any other way.