Thought Leadership

Glass blowing

By Colin Walls

I have always liked glass. It can be beautiful to look at, particularly as it interacts in such an intimate way with light. Glass artefacts have a unique appeal, which often comes from their almost organic feel – the tactile qualities that augment their visual beauty. Glass is also the enabling material in some of my key interests: photography, drinking wine, looking out of the window …

Watching glassmakers at work has always fascinated me. Their ability to take control of the hot, molten glass to make something, using just a few simple tools and a lot of puff, has held my attention for many an hour. But I am not so good at just watching – I wanted to have a go myself.

I had talked about this idea for years and asked at a couple of glass workshops, but the only response I received was mutterings about insurance and “health and safety”. Then, about a year ago, while on a brief vacation on Dartmoor in the West of England, we visited a glass works and saw that they offered one day classes in glass blowing for beginners. The price was good and the location convenient, so I made a booking straight away.

I did the class last Summer and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a one-to-one session – just me and the instructor. We started by making solid things like paperweights in the morning and later moved on to blowing stuff – bowls, vases etc. At the end of the day, I was exhausted – 7 hours of concentration and physical work in a hot environment took its toll. I could hardly stand! Glassware needs to be cooled very gently to relieve stresses [that is called “annealing”], so I could collect my work a couple of days later. I was delighted to have this box full of beautiful things that I had made to bring home. They now have pride of place on a sun-lit window sill.

A few weeks ago, I went for another class at the same place. This time, a friend came too, so I was slightly less exhausted by the day’s efforts. Like me, she was delighted by the work she produced and is keen to have another go. I think it might be addictive …

I can highly recommend glass blowing if you just want a really different way to spend a day. If, like me, you do not routinely work with your hands, I am sure you would enjoy getting results. And the admiring comments you get from everyone who sees the glassware are very satisfying. If you would like details of the place that I went to, please email me.

A paperweight

Leave a Reply

This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at