Thursday, 2 September 2010

Plowden and Thompson Glassworks

Plowden and Thompson are one of a dying breed of glass manufacturers and still manage to create bespoke glass for glass artists, hospital equipment, window manufacturers, the local butchers! (yes they really do!!!) and pretty much anyone who wants glass made for them. Their glassworks is just along the river from the main festival venue, The Ruskin Glass Centre, and is a pandoras box of glass. I managed to sneak onto a tour of the glassworks (I needed a paid ticket but by the time I realised we were already inside having the tour, oops!) and then had a look at more amazing glass in the exhibition alongside the works (this bit was free to everyone so I was too cheeky really, honest!).

The glass gets gathered in the kiln and poured into a mold, the press above it then comes down to flatten the glass and creates a round window.

They manufacture glass rods of just about any glass COE (co-efficiency, when you work with glass it needs to be the same COE so that it melts together at the same rate, if not it will crack). This was just half of the room. In the VERY long space below this room (so long you couldn't see the end as it was too dark) they are able to pull glass lengths by hand or machine to create these. Their preferred method is by hand as the machine tend to leave a slight curl in the rod which isn't perfect enough and they like to be the best they can be. Plowden and Thompson are know for having the best red coloured glass in the world and are definitely determined to keep it that way!

I absolutely loved this piece in their exhibition, probably my favourite of all the glass I saw. Its by Gill Hobson and called 'Celeste Amethyst' but with a price tag of £2200 I'm afraid to say its not yet in my house. Each individual piece of glass was a mini work of art in its own right and woven together with the wire in this way looked gorgeous.

This piece was going to be auctioned for 'Help For Heroes', its by Diana Dias-Leao and called 'Glass Corset'. Although it looked kind of spikey and uncomfortable the poppies softened the work and it was certainly drawing a lot of attention. I hope it raised a lot of money for the charity.

The lampworker who made this piece was at The Bead Fair at the Bonded Warehouse (which was also a venue for the festival) on Saturday. On her stall I noticed similar beads and spoke to her about this piece. She was clearly quite proud that someone had recognised her work from this exhibition. If only I could create something like this with my own lampworking I'd also be very proud. I'll keep practicing and see how I get on.

Next venue- Red House Cone tomorrow

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