Glass Blowing in Bermondsey

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
― Anton Chekhov

You stumble upon the most unexpected things south of the river. For example, Jeff and I decided to take in a local street festival a few weeks ago (mostly for the food, because that is pretty consistently our top priority), and found a glass blowers shop and studio. I have no idea if it was just in honor of the day or not, but the back half of the studio where the actual workroom was located was open to the public to allow visitors to watch the artists at work.

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I know nothing about glass blowing except that it looks like a time intensive process. I watched for nearly half an hour as the artist made seemingly minute adjustments to his molten project, sometimes puffing gently on his stick to slowly expand the glass, tweaking it with tools, rolling the glass on a table, and sometimes throwing off smoke as he rolled the glowing glass in a sort of mitt.

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My only other experience with glass blowing is when my family was in Venice. As I recall, we had been taken to the famous island factory by boat and really enjoyed a tour but when we had finished and left the showroom without making a purchase, the disgruntled glassblowers refused to ferry us back to the city! It was a rather ridiculous and unsubtle plot to force my parents to buy something that backfired when my parents promptly said they would pay for a water taxi to take them back to the city instead. It’s been two decades, but I believe in the end they did ferry us back. Grudgingly.

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I loved the tools, which look largely unchanged since the middle ages.

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The whole process was rather mesmerizing to watch, with glowing furnaces and glass heating the room as blogs became recognizable shapes. It’s always interesting to watch artists work, especially if the medium is a less typical one.

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I took no photos of the artistic pieces, obviously, but if you’re ever on Bermondsey Street (also home of the Fashion and Textiles Museum) it’s worth a look in.

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