If you thought shaping molten glass by blowing air into it was a niche activity, think again!
Since the 1st century BC to the studio movement of the 1960s, glassblowing has flourished as a functional and artistic craft. Using essentially the same method the Syrians used over 2000 years ago, modern day glassblowers have turned what used to be a practical necessity into a celebrated art form.
Today, glass blowing courses have blossomed across the globe, where anyone can take up the mantle of the ancients and construct their own unique creations. But with so many options available, it can be tough to know the skilled artisans from those who are just a lot of hot air! That's why we've compiled a list of our top 7 glass blowing courses, in order to give the budding glass smiths among you a helping hand. Picking from the list below will ensure you'll be shaping something spectacular in no time!
The Top Best Glassblowing Classes in the UK are:
- Creative Vibe Glassblowing Courses
- 1 Day Beginner Course with Jonathan Rogers at Clavering Glassworks
- Shakspeare Glass Taster and Masterclasses
- Glassblowing Experience with Stuart Wiltshire Glass
- Blowfish Glass Courses
- E&M Glass Taster Session
- Full Day Beginners Course with Eirian Studio Glass
1. Creative Vibe Glassblowing Courses
There's a good reason Creative Vibe Glassblowing tops our list of the best glass blowing courses. Situated in Bedford, Bedfordshire, its founder and instructor, Ricky Keech harnesses his wealth of experience to employ a uniquely spiritual approach to the process of shaping glass. Despite his facilitation of a beautiful finished product, the emphasis is upon the journey you make in getting there.
With no more than 3 students per lesson, the intimate and relaxed environment enables you to go at your own unhurried pace. And, with a range of courses that cover different methods and techniques – from interior design to Christmas baubles – we believe Creative Vibe Glassblowing is the perfect choice for those who are new to this exciting craft.
2. 1 Day Beginner Course with Jonathan Rogers at Clavering Glassworks
A quick glance at the gallery page on the Jonathon Rogers website, and the high level of quality is plain to see. Within the rustic surroundings of Clavering Farm, Essex, Roger's glass blowing courses are also geared around small class sizes (no more than 3 students) ensuring you get plenty of one-on-one instruction. The first course is aimed at total beginners, providing a great entry point into the fundamentals of glass blowing – allowing you to learn, shape, take home and treasure your creations.
Rogers also offers another 3 day course where more emphasis is placed upon learning a variety of different skills, rather than making perfect objects – by the end of which you will be adept at shaping cylinders, round shapes and conical forms. If a scan of his stylish website wasn't enough, we're confident that the professional guidance Jonathon Rogers offers is worth every penny!
3. Shakspeare Glass Taster and Masterclasses
Coming in at number 3 of our list of top glass blowing courses, Shakspeare Glass is a great option for both new and adventurous glassblowers alike. It's founder, Will Shakspeare, is a true legend in the industry. With over 25 years under his belt – including several television appearances and designing glass production for various NGOs – the quality of his glass blowing courses are assured.
Will is a true artist with glass, embracing, in his own words, the unpredictability of his craft – "I make glass with a random factor, an aspect beyond my control. I try and use colour, techniques and patterns to affect my work in a natural and fluid way." Based in Langport, Somerset, Shakspeare Glass has two courses available: the first is a taster class for total beginners where you are taught how to make a small clear vessel and a small dish, and covers basic glassmaking techniques such as gathering, marvering and blowing.
The second course is called the "Masterclass" – and with good reason! Only for those truly passionate and committed to glass blowing, it offers a full day of one on one tutoring with the man himself. Whatever your choice, opting for Shakspeare Glass ensures you'll be in more than safe hands.
4. Glassblowing Experience with Stuart Wiltshire Glass
Based in the seaside town of Weymouth, Dorset, Stuart Wiltshire Glass is the number 4 pick in our top glass blowing courses. With over 24 years of experience, Stuart's innovative approach to the art of glassblowing is truly something to behold. He undertakes a variety of bespoke commissions for glassware and has been hired by a diverse array of clients, which is more than proof of his versatility and sterling craftsmanship.
Offering one to one lessons as well as educational workshops for groups, Stuart Wiltshire's glassblowing courses ensure full assistance by the man himself when shaping the molten glass at 1120℃. Students are given an array of choices as to what kind of glassware they want to make depending on the course they choose. What colour or type of glass is up to you, and you can even discuss available options prior to the lesson. Aside from everything else to recommend it, this flexibility separates Stuart Wiltshire glass from lesser glass blowing courses.
5. Blowfish Glass Courses
With its goal to be an ambassador for artists and their work, Blowfish Glass elevates a time honoured craft into the aesthetically sublime. Female glass artist, Benathy Wood leads their online gallery – a treat for the senses, it hosts a diverse array of startlingly singular work that conveys an acute understanding of contemporary glassblowing. Who better than to learn from?
If Blowfish Glass's customer satisfaction wasn't enough of a selling point, they prioritise experimentation in their courses, allowing you not to get too bogged down by a strict format so you can follow your artistic intuition! From the historic market town of Hertford, Blowfish Glass have been making waves in the medium, assuring them an easy spot in our list of the best glass blowing courses.
6. E&M Glass Taster Session
In the mid 1980s, Ed and Margaret Burke created E&M Glass, and, now joined by their son, Charlie Burke, they run an eminent glassblowing studio in the picturesque village of Malpas, Cheshire. Ed Burke is a master glassblower who built his own glassblowing studio in 1988, and Margaret Burke – primarily influenced by primitive art – specialises in the cold working of glass. With such an obvious passion and diehard commitment to glassblowing, you'd be hard pressed to find a better course than what this dynamic duo provides!
E&M Glass have a range of courses available to suit all levels and ambitions. Their Basic Taster Session is the most suitable for beginners, and no prior experience is required – a great introduction to the tools and methods needed to shape your very own glass baubles. They also offer a one to one Full Day Session and a a Full Day Group Session that provides a "very hands on experience". With this much great value on offer, it's no wonder E&M Glass secured a place in our list of top glass blowing courses.
7. Full Day Beginners Course with Eirian Studio Glass
Established in the Welsh border town of Hay and Wye, Paul Edward Brown and Rowena Lloyd founded Eirian Studio Glass in 1989. There, in their combined workshop and gallery, they have constructed and sold handmade glass ever since. Celebrating the unique combination of artist and glassblowing mechanisms, they assert that, "it is always the relationship between these processes, the material and the maker that shapes our glass designs".
Eiran Studio Glass offers two glass blowing courses. The first is a half day taster session where groups of no more than three will be given professional guidance on the basics of glassblowing. Their hope is that, after experiencing the thrill of constructing your own amazing creations, your passion for taking glassblowing further will have been ignited!
Their second option is a full day beginner course where, in the morning, you will be taught how to gather from the furnace, shape, marver and form the glass. Then the afternoon session will be centered around broadening your skills – handling, shaping and blowing larger amounts of glass.
Need more advice?
We hope our list of the UK's best glass blowing courses helps you decide upon the course that best suits your needs. Bear in mind, with glassblowing you're dealing with temperatures over 1000℃, so safety precautions should be taken very seriously.
These are easy enough to adhere to though, and, based on the customer feedback of the above courses, we're confident that you're sure to have an eye-opening, exhilarating and memorable experience. Then who knows? Perhaps you'll become (to use glassblowing parlance) a bonafide "gaffer" in a "hotshop"!
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