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Industry News

Inside the sweltering world of the glass blower

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Traditional techniques are still sometimes better than modern machines as these glass blowers prove.

The skilled craftsmen brave the sweltering heat day in day out to make intricate glassware at Dartington Crystal in Torrington, Devon.

And the hot work pays off as high quality products from the factory sell to people all over the world.

Artwork: A factory worker works with his glass blower at the Dartington Crystal factory in Torrington, Devon

Artwork: A factory worker works with his glass blower at the Dartington Crystal factory in Torrington, Devon

 

Dartington Crystal was first established in 1967 and soon became a leading name in the supply of household glassware.

Over the past 45 years the company has honed its skills, to produce unique designs and styles of glassware using 3000-year-old glass blowing techniques.

The company was founded by the Dartington Hall Trust which was set up to help regenerate rural areas through business, education and arts. In the early 1960s the trust was worried about the lack of jobs for local people so they set up the glass-making factory as a solution to the problem.

The trust hired Eskil Vilhemson, a Swedish glass manufacturer who bought a team of glass blowers from Scandinavia, who taught the locals their trade.

Heritage: Dartington Crystal was first established in 1967 and soon became a leading name in the supply of household glassware

Heritage: Dartington Crystal was first established in 1967 and soon became a leading name in the supply of household glassware

Careful: A piece of molten glass is lowered onto a champagne glass, which will form the base of the beautifully finished design

Careful: A piece of molten glass is lowered onto a champagne glass, which will form the base of the beautifully finished design

Hot: A worker reaches into the furness to make glassware at Dartington Crystal in Devon. The products are sold all over the world

Hot: A worker reaches into the furness to make glassware at Dartington Crystal in Devon. The products are sold all over the world

Danger: The skilled craftsmen brave extreme heat to mould the glassware using traditional techniques

Danger: The skilled craftsmen brave extreme heat to mould the glassware using traditional techniques

The factory opened and soon thrived with more and more locals involved. It was at this time the company’s designer Frank Thrower created some of the most important glassware designs of the 20th century, many of which are still produced today.

Today the company employs 150 staff and is a major employer in the area. It’s the only working hand-made tableware producing crystal factory left in the UK and sells its wares to major department stores and high street retailers. 

Dartington is also a major tourist attraction for the area and more than 250,000 people visit the site each year.

 

Boom: Extra elements are added as part of the painstaking process. The company has grown and grown and now employs 150 staff

Boom: Extra elements are added as part of the painstaking process. The company has grown and grown and now employs 150 staff

Popular: This piece of glass will become a Devon tumbler, one of the factory's popular range

Popular: This piece of glass will become a Devon tumbler, one of the factory’s popular range

Fascinating: The glass is heated in a furness before being shaped. Early production at the factory relied on the skills of immigrant Swedish glass makers

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Fascinating: The glass is heated in a furness before being shaped. Early production at the factory relied on the skills of immigrant Swedish glass makers

Dartington created commemorative items across its range to mark the Royal Wedding in 2011, which notched up around £200,000 in additional sales for the business.

It also ratched up extra sales during the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation in 2013.

Sue French, of Dartington Crystal, said: ‘The Visitor Centre and Factory Experience is truly a fascinating place to visit with something for the whole family to see and do. 

‘A unique place demonstrating the best in British made crystal and glassware.’

Interesting: The factory floor is now part of a visitor experience, so that people can see how the glass is made

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Interesting: The factory floor is now part of a visitor experience, so that people can see how the glass is made

Finished product: All of the company's products are still made in Devon and the firm also sells and distributes ceramic gifts and character ware

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Finished product: All of the company’s products are still made in Devon and the firm also sells and distributes ceramic gifts and character ware

 

Process: The bottom end of a Devon Tumbler is heated up. It was later be packaged, boxed up and sent to shops

Process: The bottom end of a Devon Tumbler is heated up. It was later be packaged, boxed up and sent to shops

 

 

Tours: Visitors are welcome at the factory to see the fascinating process of making glass for themselves

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Tours: Visitors are welcome at the factory to see the fascinating process of making glass for themselves

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2527596/EXCLUSIVE-In-sweltering-hot-conditions-glass-blowers-use-traditional-techniques-craft-intricate-ornaments-vases-people-planet.html#ixzz2qgiD4tqn
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