Glassblowing courses a huge success

Lydia O'Donnell being taught by glassblower Amy Skachill-Kelly
Lydia O'Donnell being taught by glassblower Amy Skachill-Kelly

One of St Helens’ top attractions is celebrating after its courses teaching a traditional art blew up into a huge success.

The World of Glass began offering glassblowing courses and interest in this time-honoured skill is growing rapidly.

The centre’s team of experts is enjoying teaching ever-growing numbers of people learn the art, ranging from children trying out 20-minute taster sessions to more dedicated enthusiasts getting a full day of tuition.

The courses also mean St Helens is keeping its tradition of making glass alive in the 21st century, although today the emphasis is more on creating fun, decorative pieces rather than driving a commercial industry.

World of Glass executive director Ron Helsby said: “Our courses have certainly made us the capital of the north for learning to blow glass.

“We started in a small way just offering lessons for schools and local people in our Hot Glass studio, but now we are attracting people from over a hundred miles away.

“Our three glassblowers are kept busy running five different courses and interest is growing all the time.

“The courses are really popular as gifts. They are often given to children as a birthday present while many grown-ups take them as an experience.

“You could say it’s blown up into quite a success story.”

The glassblowers working at the attraction say they greatly enjoy passing their skills on to new people, whether it’s young people making small decorative objects to take away with them or adults looking to develop an in-depth knowledge and interest.

Charlie Burke said: “We usually have a lot of fun, and sometimes people even come up with new ideas and thoughts about it that can be really refreshing for us.

“One of the key attractions is that you end up with something to show. Even the taster session enables proud youngsters to create a paperweight or friendship ball they can keep.”

Courses range from £25 for a children’s taster session lasting around 20 minutes to £250 for a full day of one-to-one teaching.

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