ALUM BAY GLASS    

Published by kind permission of Alum Bay Glass Studio

Alum Bay Glass Studio - Isle of Wight

Alum Bay Glass has been creating and manufacturing fine decorative glassware on the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England since 1972 and is the Islandís longest established glass studio. In 1983 the glassworks moved into a specially designed glass studio built above the spectacular coloured sand cliffs of Alum Bay.  In this inspiring setting close to the world famous Needles rocks, Alum Bay Glass has continued to flourish and grow. To maintain the highest standards of production the entire glassworks was refurbished in the early months of 1999. 'State of the art' pot furnaces allow the glassmakers precise control over the quality of their crystal glass creations.

Alum Bay Glass produces fine crystal glasswares, using techniques developed and refined over many centuries. These techniques and the materials used continue to be refined and Alum Bay Glass now produces entirely lead-free Crystal Glass where Barium replaces the lead once used to add brilliance to the crystal. The basic pure crystal glass is made by melting together purified silica sand (mined in Belgium), borax, limestone dolomite, potash and barium carbonate. After 5 hours heating at 1260 degrees Celsius, the temperature is lowered to 1080 degrees Celsius and the glass is then ready to use.
Pages from the Bagley Glass book

Virtually every hand working technique is used in the glass studio - blowing, casting, pressing, spinning and drawing.

The photos below show the various stages of making a 'Jack in the Pulpit' vase at Alum Bay Glass:

Glassmaking image 1
The glassmaker gathers molten glass
on the end of a hollow blowing iron.
Colours in the form of powdered or chipped glass, metallic oxides, sometimes silver and gold leaf,
are rolled onto the surface of
the clear crystal glass.
Shaping begins with a pad of wet newspaper cupped in the glassmaker's otherwise unprotected hand or a wooden cup called a 'Block' is sometimes used.
Glassmaking image 2

Glassmaking image 3
The glass is then stretched and shaped with a variety of
hand-held tools.
The iron must be constantly rotated and the glass worked at the
correct temperature to ensure
that the shape is perfect.
Blowing through the rotating iron
produces a bubble of the required size.

Glassmaking image 4
Once the glassmaker is satisfied with
the base shape it can be cracked off
the blowing iron and reversed so
that the top can be formed.
A solid iron is then attached to   
the base using a small gob of   
molten glass called a 'Punty'.   
The glass shape is then re-heated
in the 'Glory Hole',  a combustion
chamber at 1200+ degrees Celsius.
Glassmaking image 5
The neck of the vase is opened
out and, for this distinctive shape,
stretched to an organic flowing taper.
The classic 'Jack in the pulpit '
shape is then achieved by the
bending and stretching of the rim.
When the glassmaker is satisfied
with the final shape, the vase is
placed in an annealing oven to
cool gradually over 15 hours.

After being allowed to cool slowly and evenly to prevent stress fractures forming, some pieces will then need further work in the way of grinding and polishing. A perfume bottle for instance, will have a matching glass stopper made.

Then, only after a rigorous quality check, will the piece be finally ready to be displayed for sale.

Alum Bay Glass Studio - 1 The studio glass makers of Alum Bay draw their inspiration from many sources. They work surrounded by some of the most dramatic scenery in the British Isles.  The ranges of glass made reflect the constant shifts of light and mood in the weather at this far western point of the Isle of Wight.

Shimmering irridescence,  soft shades,  bold contrasts and the luxury of sterling silver and 22ct gold are all part of the rich palette they use .  Small wonder then,  that the glass from the Alum Bay Glass Studio is so widely collected.
Alum Bay Glass Studio - 2
Alum Bay Glass Studio - 2


Click here for an article with more information about 'Jack In The Pulpit' vases and their history


This document is copyright Alum Bay Glass and Tony Hayter (1st.Glass) © Copyright 2008 ©



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