Christmas Baubles

Last weekend we put up our Christmas tree. I thought I’d leave my family with some festive frivolity before heading off to West Dean for the week, so I booked them a session to blow glass Christmas baubles with Michael Ruh, our neighbour and local glass blower.

Michael’s studio is a lovely space in a warren of studios down a little blink-and-you’d-miss-it alley between an Indian takeaway and a bookies in Tulse Hill. We were welcomed by Michael’s wife Natascha who showed us the three options for the glass baubles – a spiral, a speckled or a colour field bauble. They would be blown from glass that had been rolled in granular glass frit which would give them their colour. My son chose a silvery yellow and blue for a spiral bauble and my husband chose an reddish orange and white frit for what I realised, resignedly, was going to be an Arsenal-themed bauble.

Then Michael demonstrated how he gathered the glass from the furnace, trimming it with shears, shaping it with a block and beginning to blow air into it to trap a bubble inside the glass. More heating in the furnace and then the hot gather of glass was rolled in the frit before being heated again to melt it in.

Isaac blowing glassThen came the fun part where Michael got each of them to stand on a raised platform ready to blow down the blowpipe while Michael’s assistant shaped the growing bubble of glass in a mold.The bubble was tapped off and a hanging loop was fashioned from a blob of viscous glass placed on top. The finished bauble was marked up with an identifying number and placed in a kiln for annealing over the next 24 hours.

I left my son with instructions to pick up the baubles from Natascha while I was away and I loved seeing the results.


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