Don’t Miss …Messums Glass Festival!

Saturday 26 – Sunday 27 January 2019
On the last weekend of January Messums gallery in Wiltshire will be hosting their second Glass Festival. The weekend will be made up of a day of demonstrations by contemporary masters using one of The Glass Hub’s Minimelt furnaces set up in the barn, followed by a chance to have a go yourself on the Sunday. This festival accompanies the current exhibition at Messums, ‘Material Light: Glass’, with artists Dante Marioni, Elliot Walker and an amazing installation by Michael Hulls ‘Tungsten Requiem’ – not to be missed!


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When Scott Chaseling Rolled-up

scott-chaseling-masterclass-roll-upWe were so delighted to have the opportunity to host master glass artist Scott Chaseling, who arrived from Australia in September inspiring us all with the mechanics and beauty of the ‘roll-up’ technique using fused glass. Primarily triggered by work developed by Claus Moje and Dante Marioni in the ‘90s, Scott Chaseling has further developed the techinique where fused glass is rolled it up into a cylinder and then blown out as if gathered from the furnace.  Continue reading

‘Hot Start – Cold Finish’ – Masterclass with Louis Thompson and Anthony Scala

Day 1.

This course developed from the bold concept of creatively merging hot and cold glassmaking processes and inviting two of the best from each arena to steer the ship – master glass artists, Louis Thompson and Anthony Scala. Participants arrived from as far as Australia for this course, armed with an open mind and eager anticipation for the five-day adventure to come.

Following an inspirational introduction by the tutors, students were given a roll of paper to fill with their creative ideas and to use as a diary over the coming week and selected some coloured blown cylinders to work with. The group split into two teams and each team would spend half of the day with Anthony dissecting and deconstructing the cylinders; learning to use cold-working tools, to cut, carve and make marks; removing colour; adding detail and simply learning the processes. The other half would be spent with Louis in the Hot Shop, assisted by the wonderful glass artist Niki Steel, to sketch out their ideas in 3D glass – to be used as either components for sculpting, or core pieces to carve on the following day. The coolness of the river and the evening shade at Stowford Manor Farm were most welcome that evening, as all had the opportunity to wind down and share their experiences with a well-earned drink.

Day 2.
The rising temperatures outside were largely ignored this morning as we only cared about the kiln temperatures. The top loading kilns, were packed full of the previous day’s ‘pickups’, ready to be assembled with heat, torches and hot glass, alongside a menu of ideas already forming on rolls of wallpaper, and the newly stretched minds of participants. Louis and Anthony were both intent on expanding all the possibilities available through exploration and experimentation, keeping everyone away from the restrictions of creating single, completed pieces. A whole variety of shapes, techniques and trials were explored as the group began to gain both hot and cold confidence in the studio. Homemade pizza with G&Ts by the river later on …in cool shade, well-deserved.

Day 3
By now, everyone was showing signs of loosening up, and students’ personal themes were naturally becoming evident. This kind of creativity flourishes within a space where ‘letting it happen’ opens outcomes. In the cold-shop, Anthony and Jess monitor the slicing, chopping, cutting, blasting and sectioning of yesterday’s work. In the hot-shop Louis and Niki work on blown pieces, sculpting solid components, working with colours, additions, blanks to carve and rings to blow into. Looking at each piece of glass with an open mind to the creative possibilities has allowed unique details to emerge, and the anticipation of what could be created fills the air. After an exhausting yet inspiring day, we fired up the BBQ, and enjoyed a wonderful evening of food, drinks and live demonstrations from Louis and James Devereaux, with a roman jug and wine glass demo from Dave Barry from Bristol Blue.

Day 4.
Everyone’s work suddenly seems to be coming together – cogs, decorative rings to blow into, stones to stack hot, amphoras and spinning wings are filling the hot shop along with the sound of the oxy gas torch heating and gluing glass together. Students are now more confident with the machines, are able to move more seamlessly from lathe to bench, between hot and cold in their nest of creativity. Anthony gave a brilliant gluing demo …who knew there was that much to know about gluing!

Day 5
And here we are on the last Day. There was a palpable rush to get as much finished as possible. A glass equivalent of ‘The Bake Off’ ensued, but with more dangerous edges and much nicer judges. Participants were all on-track to get their work finished and when the furnaces were turned off at lunch-time, an unusually tranquil atmosphere filled the studio. We concluded this fantastic week with a reflective fifteen-minute presentation from everyone, rolls of drawings on the floor. How different each story was, and with so much experimentation, discovery and a real sense of achievement by all.
Led by two of the most talented and happy guys to be around, it was impossible not to enjoy this week. A big thank-you to Louis Thompson and Anthony Scala, who gave their ‘all’ to this brilliant and creative group of glass artists.

A Glass Spectacular at Messums Wiltshire

We were approached by Messums Wiltshire in November 2017, to take part in their “Glass Festival: Alchemy in Art” due to take place on 28th Jan 2018. The plan was to take our mobile Minimelt glassblowing studio to the event for demonstrations. Messums is a spectacular new fine art gallery in Tisbury, Wiltshire, showcasing fine art, and more recently, crafts. Glass ‘art’ has generally been segregated from the fine art world, and so this was a unique opportunity to showcase not only beautiful glass artworks and fine craftsmanship, but also the physical process …live in the gallery!

The concept of the day, evolved from simple participatory glass bauble blowing into a unique display of live master glassblowing demonstrations for the public to watch. Previous events at Messums have included operas …so why not?  Within twelve hours we had confirmed a schedule of great glassblowers and things were in full swing. The talented line-up consisted of: Dave Barry, James Devereux (featuring Cathryn Shilling), Katie Huskie, Elliot Walker and then a surprise guest from overseas – Dante Marioni.

Transporting the Glassblowing Studio

Loading the van

It’s extraordinary how much “stuff” one needs to create a glassblowing studio at an event like this. Thankfully we’ve held many hot glass demonstrations out in the field including festivals as diverse as Glastonbury and The international Festival of Glass together with performances in cathedrals and workshops all around the country. While a full class was running at The Glass Hub, we packed up the Minimelt Mobile Glassblowing studio, including four mobile kilns. After a very steady forty minute drive we arrived at Messums beautiful tithe barn to set up the studio on a specially prepared stage of shiny new steel.

Glass Festival: Alchemy in Art – Sunday 28th January

We fired up at 7am, on the 28th. Kiln 1 was on and heating up Cathryn Shilling’s fused tile (at a scarily rapid rate) and the MiniMelt furnace turned to full blast, preparing the glass for the first demonstration…

Demo 1.  David Barry assisted by Bliss Hill

With only a small amount of time to practice, check layout and set the stage, David Barry and Bliss Hill were the first demonstrators. They performed a beautifully perfected piece of choreography, as they moved together and connected with molten glass, to create a fine piece of English handblown stemware. Both work for the local company Bristol Blue, the fluidity of production glassblowing shining through. Dave then went on to create some sculptures. He crafted a stunning dagger with clear glass that had its handle dipped in the rib mould and twisted on the marver. The blade was then dropped on hot, cut with shears and perfectly stretched to a point.


Demo 2. James Devereux, featuring Cathryn Shilling, assisted by Katie Huskie

The kiln temperature was up, and a sigh of relief as the 6mm tile that we previously added and heated up rapidly was still in one piece. Cathryn Shilling took to the mic’ while Katie and James prepared the tile ready to roll. Cathryn talked us through the history and process of the “roll-up” whilst the young master James Devereux, (himself a local Wiltshire lad) was glassblowing on the stage, assisted by the talented Katie Huskie. Cathryn and Devereux-Huskie performed their well-rehearsed technique, creating a blown vessel from a flat sheet of fused glass. As expected, they dealt smoothly with the new situation, location and audience as if they blew glass there every day. We feel so honoured to work just down the road from these guys Devereux and Huskie, and are privileged to have them demonstrate for us at The Glass Hub on many occasions.


Glass: Craft or Fine Art? Debate

After a lunch break we all took our seats in the barn again for a discussion about glass – “Craft or Fine Art?”. A panel consisting of Cathryn Shilling, Emma Woffenden, James Devereux and Dante Marioni responded to a range of questions on glass in relation to the craft/art debate. For me, just the fact that we as makers and designers were there talking about it in a fine art gallery is progress.

Demo 3. Katie Huskie

1.30pm and Katie Huskie was up next. Katie was assisted by James Devereux, together they performed a wonderful display of team, gathering and bit work as Emma Baker and Dave Barry were pulled in to assist. Katie blew up a coloured cylinder and added strands of hot glass by trailing and tweezing them into shape. There was a solid and retro quality to Katie Huskie’s piece that we loved, it captured light beautifully and was awesome to watch …but no time to linger, It’s time to get the next show on the road!


Demo 4. Elliot Walker

Elliot Walker is no stranger to the limelight of performance and doesn’t like to stick to any kind of rehearsal or script, but loves to go with the flow. His aim was to make a “bird inside an egg” which was in fact, a solid bird, sitting in a nest, encased inside a clear blown egg. Like a magician, he talks with perfect ease to the rapidly increasing audience. His few years of working as “The Bandits of Glass” lending confidence and a natural agility. This ambitious piece of work was executed brilliantly and finally flew to rest in the lehr with no time to spare! His work is incredible.


Demo 5. Dante Marioni

And so the moment arrived and the audience extended all around the centre stage now. With about two minutes to go, I looked into the kiln to check on a pre-fired reticello cup that Dante had given me to heat up earlier. Phew! It hadn’t smashed into pieces and Dante Marioni was ready for the off.  American born glass artist Dante Marioni has achieved international acclaim for his work. Having trained with such masters as Lino Tagliapietra, Benjamin Moore, and Richard Marquis, he is best known for his venetian style colourful free-blown vessels. I’m not sure that he was fully aware of the limitations of the mobile glassblowing set-up in the barn that day, but he seemed to be confident that he could go further than just a Reticello vessel, and would make one of his ‘Acorns’.

The crowd hushed, and a serene silence filled the building. Dante admitted that he was more comfortable with American noise, music and stadium sound rather than this tranquil silence, but being truly British, we politely continued our stillness, in awe, watching a master of this calibre. He picked up the preformed Reticello cup, sealing it into a perfect object in itself, then gathered over and produced the most incredible piece of glass. Assisted expertly by James Devereux, he managed to deal with any equipment limitations to effortlessly create the most stunning Reticello Acorn.



A massive sigh of relief was released from the silent crowd as the final piece was tapped off into gloves and popped into the last space of the top loader kiln. We had five incredible pieces in. Not one had smashed on the floor; the equipment had lasted, but more than that, we had demonstrated to the audience at Messums that day the extraordinary skills and the beauty of glassmaking in action!

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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.