Karl Harron and The Perfect Vessel – by Sue Tinkler

“THE PERFECT VESSEL” with Karl Harron 2017 at The Glass Hub

I first met Karl at the Glass Hub in 2016 when I was a student on his 5 day course and then again for the 7 day course at North Lands this year, so I was thrilled when Helga told me that my application to be his TA for this course had been accepted. There is something magical about the Glass Hub, it is one of the few places where kilnforming and the mysterious world of glass blowing happen side by side.
Karl’s course offered so much more than just learning about his technical method. He gave professional guidance, and on a practical level he covered health and safety, mould preparation, compatibility, viscosity, heat-work manipulation, cold working and advised on maintaining kilns and other studio equipment.
At the start of the course, each student gave a 15 minute presentation about their own work and what inspires them. Students then presented their own design concept which they developed throughout the week by making a series of glass samples using a limited colour palette.
Over the 7 days the students made ‘The Perfect Vessel’ – first by decorating two blank circles of reactive Bullseye glass. These were full fused to form a blank which was then slumped into three moulds in consecutive firings – sounds simple enough except for two of those slumps the students had to wear protective clothing to manipulate the mould in the hot kiln to ensure the glass slumped correctly. Often this would need to be done several times to achieve perfection. Great team work developed during this process as it required other students to open the kiln, keep time and record temperature. At the end of the week Karl spent time mentoring each student to discuss their aspirations and next steps with glass.

There is no doubt Karl’s courses are challenging, both physically and mentally, his generosity in sharing information is second to none. He is happy to answer almost any technical question (although I can still see his raised eyebrow at some of them!)
This was my first time as TA on a course, it was hard work but very enjoyable; anticipating each next step, and making sure the materials and equipment were ready helping students where I could.
Like many of the students on the course, glass was not my first career. I have found building skills and knowledge by attending master classes alongside running my own business is right for me. Karl’s courses have helped me to take a bolder step in developing my own way in glass, encouraging me to strive for perfection.

Sue Tinkler


Andrea Spencer Masterclass – Where Lampworking met Fusing.

Andrea Spencer Masterclass 19th – 20th October

Andrea Spencer is fast becoming one of the UK’s leading women glass artists. Her work is simply exquisite, and with a spirited and investigational teaching style, Andrea joined us to teach an explorative Masterclass for students eager to merge the techniques of lampworking with fusing. Her class was instantly booked, with a waiting list to boot.

Andrea has extensive experience in glass, working with a myriad of processes and techniques. After graduating from Edinburgh with a BA in Architectural glass, one can still see echoes of this background in the way she displays and frames her work. Her glass is inspired by natural forms and can be both incredibly delicate and capable of filling spaces with site-specific installations. Her work embodies both the experience of natural forms and personal narrative. Among many other things, she has been an artist-in-residence at North Lands Creative Glass (Scotland) and a visiting artist at Penland School of Crafts (USA) and Pilchuck Glass School (USA).  Andrea Spencer’s work is held in significant public and private collections and has been exhibited in galleries in the UK, USA and China. Notably, her work has been exhibited in three British Glass Biennale exhibitions (2008, 2010, 2012). Andreas public art commissions can also be seen in several healthcare buildings throughout Northern Ireland.

On Day one, Andrea’s students arrived: Some with a background in fusing who wanting to use lampworking to extend their manipulation of glass, and some with a lampworking background, wanting to extend skills with the kiln process. This experimental class fired up imaginations alongside the torches – fuelled by Andrea’s tremendous energy and enthusiasm. Running the torches hotter than is normal for standard torch work, the excess air and gas, soon turned everyone’s glass molten, and they were dropping, twisting and pulling multiple small objects that would later be placed onto a sheet of bullseye to create a composite work. Following a few demos, everyone was set to work on their individual components.

This was no bead class but one where students were encouraged to heat and drop, squash, sculpt, twist and squish the coloured rods to create small pieces which were then placed directly onto the kiln shelf ready for assembling later on. This somewhat unconventional way of working was refreshing, the items being small enough to sit together on the shelf, and all ready to use that same afternoon. For the impatient, this was a genius moment of discovery. Soon the batch of small objects were assembled onto sheets of bullseye glass. Some sat flat on the sheet as they had fallen hot onto the kiln shelf, so didn’t roll around, glue was used for the bits that did move. In this way students built up their composite works and the kiln was set for the first day’s firing.

Over the two days, Andrea would give a series of demos, and students would then interpret what they had learned into their own work. Andrea demonstrated skill in manipulating sheet glass pieces – bringing them together and sculpting them into a beautiful leaf and a delicate wishbone in an ivory colour. This was a unique way of working and a contemporary approach to an ancient technique. Students were so inspired by the making process they forged ahead, making multiple small objects right until the end of the second day. They left with, not only a large bag, full of components to fuse at home, but a great sack of knowledge and freedom.

Thank you Andrea!

Click the image below to view photos on Flickr
Andrea Spencer Masterclass

There will be another class with Andrea in the Autumn, 2018. please contact us if you are interested.

Scott Benefield Cane Masterclass

Scott Benefield and Andrea Spencer arrived from Belfast on a Sunday night and were whisked through the high hedges and darkness to Stowford farm where they would spend the next week teaching at The Glass Hub.

Day 1.
The following morning Scott introduced our group of six keen students to the types of glass cane they were going to be pulling over the week. The first day – simple “veiled” cane. Colours were chosen, cut and heated up in the top loaders, ready to be picked up. The ladders were laid out, doors closed for draughts and Scott demonstrated a few hot and perfect pulls. Then it was our students’ turn. The speed, accuracy and single-handed style of Scott is both unique and authentically a Murano style. This was certainly challenging for the group, but the day ended with bundles of coloured canes ready for day two.

View Day 1 Photos on Flickr

Day 2
So how do you go about rolling up, round, lively and separate canes into a uniform sheet that curls obediently into the required cylinder? Scott showed us exactly how by lining up the canes on the kiln shelf, he takes a measurement with the pie dividers and while this is being heated, gathers and forms a collar to suit. The glass on the kiln shelf is heated, turned, squeezed with paddles and on reaching the perfect temperate (good to roll but not to stick) the canes are rolled and brushed clean before being blown into a beautiful black and white cane cup.
The rest of the day was spent learning not just the art of blowing out the cup, but also how to work as a team, communicating well and getting the necessary precision of timings.

View Day 2 Photos on Flickr

Day 3
Scott lines up seven white canes on the ribbed pastorelli and picks them up on one side of a large gather. He proceeds to heat and pull out the loveliest length of flat cane Piatina or “pin stripe” as he called it. Next pick-up is an evenly spaced roll of canes that is twisted to form the “Rete” cane and finally before the students got started, Scott demonstrates the gorgeous Ballotini cane, where the twist appeared looped like stitches inside.

Now students practiced some of these cane-pulling techniques to build up a library of canes. Only a short break for Scott, until the smell of roast lamb and curry permeates the hot shop as we prepare food for the evening’s demonstration. All of us enjoyed the most incredible demo’ by Scott that evening, assisted by Andrea, Katie Huskie and Emma Baker. James Devereux was on door duty only, as Scott produced a stunning incalmo platter with lip wrap and pinstripes.
We were joined by students from a range of backgrounds including skilled production blowers from Bristol Blue together with our own foundation students and more! After Scott, Dave from Bristol Blue got onto the bench and made a sword, then a wine glass, finishing off the evening of glass, food and wine with laughter and glass drama.

View Day 3 Photos on Flickr

Day 4
Scott starts the day with a demo’ of delicate cane pulling in blues, making a curvaceous hour glass shape. He was assisted by Ben, a recent graduate from Plymouth, who kindly stepped into Andrea’s place as she started her own “Form to Fuse” masterclass next door. A black, clear and pinstripe (Striche and Piatina) vase was created to inspire the group in the potentials of the technique. Students then pulled and blew as they entered the last furlong of the course, galloping towards the speed, fluidity and finesse shown by the master – Scott. The energy was intense, concentrated and focused with students finding their feet on the cane ladders, that were, literally, strewn across the floor for the pull.

View Day 4 Photos on Flickr

Day 5
Our final day and final demo as Scott shows us his system of making cane in a production style. A long tube of cane is cut into several sections and held in the kiln until required. Scott then blew up a beautiful vase to finish off his time in the bench as students got their final piece and pulls done. It was awe-inspiring how far the students had progressed and how much they absorbed of these incredible techniques originating in Venice centuries ago, crossed to America, discovered by Scott and now brought here from the shores of Northern Ireland. A brilliant week and a good end to our Northern Irish Masters’ classes. No doubt these skills will be spreading through Scotland and England in the years to come, keeping these ancient and important techniques really alive.

View Day 5 Photos on Flickr


Coming up… Scott Benefield Masterclass

We are really looking forward to sharing another five days with glass artist Scott Benefield as he guides us through the wonderful world of cane. Scott will be sharing his expertise at the Glass Hub over the five-day masterclass, ‘Introduction to Venetian Cane Techniques’ (16 – 20 October 2017). We have two places left so why not come and learn all about this exciting process from a real master.

Click here for more information and booking!

Scott is a multi-award winning artist, educator and writer and past president of the Glass Art Society (US). He has been a Fellow at the Creative Glass Center of America and an artist-in-residence at the National College of Art & Design (Ireland), North Lands Creative Glass (UK), Vrij Glas (Netherlands), Pittsburgh Glass Center, the Corning Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Museum of Glass (US). His writing about studio glass has been published in numerous publications, including Glass Quarterly and the Glass Art Society Journal.

He is a master of Italian cane techniques and has taught cane workshops at the Penland School of Crafts, the Pilchuck Glass School, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, the National College of Art and Design (Ireland), the Glass Furnace (Turkey) and as a visiting scholar at Osaka University of the Arts in 2009.


The Freedom of the ‘One Off’ Masterclass with Joseph Harrington

The Glass Hub welcomed Joseph Harrington once again for a rather special masterclass – ‘The Freedom of the One-Off’. Joe has had a busy time recently – being represented by Bullseye Projects at Collect in February, chosen as Maker of the Week by the Crafts Council shortly afterwards, and then having a piece acquired by the V&A Museum for their Glass Gallery. So we were extremely excited to have Joe here to show students the techniques and methodology involved in his beautiful geologically inspired kiln cast pieces…..


The Freedom of the ‘One Off’ Masterclass with Joseph Harrington

The Glass Hub welcomed Joseph Harrington once again for a rather special masterclass – ‘The Freedom of the One-Off’. Joe has had a busy time recently – being represented by Bullseye Projects at Collect in February, chosen as Maker of the Week by the Crafts Council shortly afterwards, and then having a piece acquired by the V&A Museum for their Glass Gallery. So we were extremely excited to have Joe here to show students the techniques and methodology involved in his beautiful geologically inspired kiln cast pieces. As Joe says, ‘the main principle within my work is to create a sense of progression and evolution within a solid permanent form’. Students were challenged on the first morning to create ten quick and spontaneous creative forms in clay, without too much thought of the process involved. The aim was to ‘free up’ the mind and creativity, without being hindered by thoughts of how the pieces would be cast or moulds made! Following this we were encouraged to explore materials such as clay, sand, and found objects to make an open cast piece. Joe showed us how to explore the properties and physicality of these materials, such as heating clay and manipulating until it cracks, or pouring wax onto clay, combining and experimenting with possibilities. These were cast up into moulds, and loaded with glass for the day’s first firing!

The next day we were treated to a presentation of images of Joe’s work and the progression he has made over the last 20 years working in glass. Joe began with a degree in Ceramics and Glass, making ceramic pieces, but soon realised that glass was the medium he was drawn towards. It was interesting to see Joe’s progression though his glass pieces, as the scale increased as well as the distinctiveness of his ‘geological’ style which evolved as he came to use ice as a material. The ice is eroded and sculpted with salt then cast into glass, capturing a moment in time as the ice is melting. This thawing of ice provides a physical time frame to work within, heightening the importance of artistic judgment and decision-making. The day’s task for students was to work on an ice piece. Blocks of ice were chosen from the freezer and then students set about carving, eroding and melting to achieve a piece which would be cast into glass. There were some challenges in controlling the form and maintaining the integrity of the mould whilst the ice is melting, but everyone achieved the task and began to think about what colours etc they would use for casting. Ice as a modelling material certainly opened up many opportunities for working in new and exciting ways. A delicious meal in the evening contributed to a general feeling of well-being!

The third day began with another approach to mould making, exploring a ‘mosaic’ of modelling materials to achieve new juxtapositions of form. Joe showed student how to cut up cast pieces of plaster, clay and ice to reassemble with sand, creating the positive form which was then covered in refractory mould mix to create a casting mould. He then led a discussion of cold-working techniques, such an important part of Joe’s practice, but something difficult to achieve with limited equipment. Joe kindly offered many tips and tricks for working on pieces with a limited budget for equipment, and everyone felt that there were new possibilities for achieving some finishing at home in the future. We then had the opportunity to get the first pieces out of the kiln, which seemed to have been made eons ago! There was excitement as pieces were assessed and discussions had as to how pieces could be changed or improved in the future. Before long students were rushing to finish off the day’s mould making before finally departing, fired up with enthusiasm for the new directions and inspirations which they had discovered. Once again Joe proved to be a considerate, knowledgeable and motivating tutor, generous in the information he gave to everyone, and expert in his awareness and understanding of glass as a material. We’re looking forward to the next time already!

Helga Watkins-Baker


Masterclass – Breaking the Mould with Karl Harron


It is easy to fall into a groove when following our own creative paths with glass. Occasionally it feels good to be introduced to new techniques and practices that can open-up alternative creative pathways. Karl Harron’s masterclass encouraged us all to re-think and re-address the properties of glass and how we think it all works.

The workshop began with a discussion of the properties of glass: c.o.e; viscosity and flow; surface value; reactivity, followed by a flurry of questions from students as we were all introduced to new concepts and ideas about forming glass.

We all chose a theme to work on throughout the week, and the diversity of human creativity was illustrated as we talked though our chosen subject.

Students spent the first day preparing glass samples for the kiln, working with two colours to explore reactivity and viscosity. Vessel pieces were also prepared for their first shallow (and easiest!) slump in the kiln. Minds were buzzing as we finished the day with more questions than answers.

Day two began with the preparation of the vessels and moulds for slumping and an explanation of the principles of manipulating glass in the kiln for a deeper slump. What transpired to be the longest day of the week (we didn’t finish until 9pm!) ended with everyone successfully controlling the slumping process to get even vessel forms with some considerable depth. Our lovely samples came out of the kiln and everyone began to get excited about how effective the combination of using simply two glass colours with a lead/sulphur reaction, was. At the end of a long, hot day we all retired with thoughts of the third deeper slump to come.

Day three saw the already beautiful glass pieces returned to the kiln for their final journey in heat transformation, all of us feeling like we had a handle on opening-up kilns repeatedly for hours on end. Great teamwork and hard work enabled all participants to see their vessels through to the end, as the glass stretched its way down to near the bottom of the third mould.

More concept tiles and thoughts of creative themes were laid up by students in the following days to reflect new discoveries and thoughts. The deep-slumped forms were given some cold-finishing treatments to reveal their full beauty. We were all excited about the possibilities that this complex and technical approach to kiln-working glass can bring, and students left with much food for thought. A big thank you to Karl for bringing his expertise and inspirational glass making to us here at the Glass Hub; to Amy Casto for all her great assistance; to Karen Warner for general amazingness, and to all the students for their wonderful ideas contributions …and resilience!

Helga Watkins-Baker

Karl Harron slumped glass vesselAbout Karl Harron

Working in a centuries-old continuum of metallurgy and craftsmanship inherited from his Irish past, glass artist Karl Harron combines lead and sulphur-bearing glasses with fine silver to create elegant kiln-formed vessels whose etched and light resonating surfaces have an elemental essence. In sculpting his glass Karl Harron moves from traditional vessels to exciting expressions of “form and material” conveying ideas and visual poetry, while still retaining vestiges of their original function. These vessels are both functional and enveloping. They embody the preservation of materials and the containment of things precious to us, symbolising fragments of history, reflecting the every day, and conversely the revered. They narrate a story, from where they came, and their reason for being.


We are planning a second instalment of Karl during the Autumn of 2017 if you are interested in participating then please register you interest by adding your name and email to our list. We do not share information with any third parties.

Register your interest.

Some photos from the course:



Lisa Pettibone is Shaping up this November

Lisa Pettibone - Green Fold

We will soon be welcoming the talented master glass artist Lisa Pettibone back to The Glass Hub. Lisa returns this November to share her extensive knowledge of sculptural glass slumping.

After years of slumping glass, both kiln cast and fused pieces, she has discovered new ways to express form and volume that has occupied her artistic and technical thoughts for ten years or more. This involves careful temperature control and planning, allowing glass to fall into, onto and through objects in the kiln as well as making props and moulds. Letting shapes fall naturally with props can achieve a range of shapes, but we may extend this and actually go inside the kiln to manipulate hot glass too.

Lisa is unique in her approach to glass. Gravity, energy and tension are at the core of her work, and the results are beautiful, stretching glass, techniques and the imagination. We have a couple of places left on this brilliant 3-day workshop if you want to join Lisa and take your glassmaking to the next level.

view course


Angela Jarman and a World of Texture

Angela-Jarman-Masterclass-Day-2 (4)We launched into our Summer term here at The Glass Hub with a fantastic and completely sold-out kiln-glass masterclass with Angela Jarman. Always a great joy to have around she led nine students through a world of moulding and casting with a focus on surface texture and pattern.

Angela is a unique artist, her sensitive and imaginative work is powerful and dynamic, yet intricate and feminine. The first day of this exciting masterclass began with an introduction to the processes, an explanation of the techniques students would be exploring, and then everyone busying themselves making waxes from textured objects, and duplicates of small items they had brought. The emphasis was on the quickness and simplicity with which multiple items can be reproduced in wax using alginate and silicon master moulds, to produce new and intriguing forms.

Day 2 began with students taking the waxes from the former day, with explanations of further processes, modelling techniques, ways of building up components whilst keeping the sense of the “whole piece”. Angela gave a fascinating talk about her work and its development, describing where she has come from in her thought and physical /creative processes, to where she is now.   Students left that day exhausted but full of inspiration from this……it sometimes takes meeting and learning and being around someone who has turned hard work and talent into a success to remember what can be achieved if we try hard enough!

Day 3, as ever, was predictably the busiest and most frantic in the kiln room, with everyone with a massive refractory bucket list, all by 4 pm!!! Armed with cottling, boards, plaster, finishing off last minute details and picking the last bits of Angela’s well worked brain, students dipped, carved, boarded up, weighed out glass and eventually managed to get all moulds finished and into the kilns. A fantastic course, big thanks to Angela and of course the awesome TA Holly Hatt, who helps us out endlessly on more and more kiln courses.


Joseph Harrington and The Freedom of the One-Off

Joseph-Harrington-masterclass-students-2016We were so pleased to finally welcome Joseph Harrington through our doors at The Glass Hub. His work has always been so iconic for us, the rugged forms, natural tones and essence of landscape has always been a favourite, as well as his lovely nature to boot.

Using his direct approach with the modelling material the spirit lives on within the work. He seems to capture a sense of time and movement within a solid object, expressing an evolution of forms and a reaction of materials and energies acting upon each other. He has developed a unique working method using ice as a modelling medium. The ice is eroded and sculpted with salt then cast in glass, capturing a moment in time as the ice is melting. This thawing of ice provides a physical time frame to work within, heightening the importance of artistic judgment and decision-making.

Check out his stuff, www.josephharrington.co.uk

Joe has had a lot of experience in his relatively short career, working with the best in Britain, getting his Master’s degree and even running a class at Bullseye glass in Oregon, USA. This class at The Glass Hub was long awaited by ourselves and students alike and we were not disappointed. Joe arrived to a studio packed with everything (and more) that a kiln caster could desire. We had everything from salt, sand, a freezer full of ice blocks and even lard! …yes lard was on the shopping list.

Students began on Friday morning armed with clay on boards, sand and wax, ready to make an impression. Then followed a flurry of clay modelling …texture making using a whole variety of tools and materials including scrunched up papers and gritty sands. Our open casting moulds were being poured by the afternoon.

Saturday morning began with pulling the clay from the open cast moulds, followed an introduction to Joseph’s signature dish of lost ice sculpture – carving a block of ice, using salt, a blow torch and tools.

On our final day, students reviewed the results from Friday’s moulds and continued making ice sculptures and adding texture and form with bit of cold working. Joe led this class to a satisfying end leaving us all inspired and full of ideas. Something tells me it won’t just be food in the freezers at home soon. Check out some of the photos from his class in the album below.

Thanks once again Joe, and to Holly and Mylene for all their hard work and assistance.

Till the next time.