Interview with Hen Ogledd Glass

A NEW Arts business has moved into Florence Arts Centre and are hoping to get people blowing there own glass.

Josh and Ann with a selection of glass work

Why is it called Hen Ogledd Glass?

Josh: It’s Cumbric. So you have Yan, Tan, Tethera, it is how this part of the world was referred to. Everyone thinks it’s Welsh it’s actually Cumbric was one of the first Celtic languages.

Ann: It depends who you talk to, some people say Cumbric is actually Welsh.

Josh: But really, ultimately the research shows that Cumbric was one of the first Celtic languages and then influenced down into Wales and on into Northern France and it was how this area was referred to. So it means Old North. So very tied in even though a lot of people don’t get it they just think it’s Welsh.


How long have you been glassblowing and how did you end up working with glass?

Josh: We both went to the same uni and did glassblowing down in Surrey in Farnham. We did about four years down there and that was about three years ago.

Ann: About four or five now, it’s about ten years in all.

Josh: But obviously we haven’t been glassblowing the entire time we have been doing little bits here and there since we finished uni and we have been saving up to get the equipment to set up and working with a couple of other makers and that kind of thing.


What is your favourite part of the glassblowing process?

Josh: I like Cane work, making the Cane work tumblers. So it is a different process to making a normal piece of glass, instead of gathering a lump of glass out of the furness and then working that into the vessel. You gather a small amount to make a post and then using little pre-pulled strands of glass, in different colours. You then roll the end of the post over them and then that creates the cylinder which you then close off on the end. You can then end up making much thinner and more Venetian, Italian style of glass. That’s how they make the tumblers and stuff in Italy.

Ann: I just like making more organic, natural pieces. I love working with the colours, combining different colours, making them work together and then creating quite natural and organic forms. I don’t like pushing the glass to hard.

Josh: I think I am very technical, that’s the attraction to it for me. For my final piece I needed to make six cane work tumblers. I must have made two hundred, just to get them to the level I was happy with and I could have probably made two hundred more before I got to the level I was satisfied with but for me it is very much trying to get it perfect and for you it is very much about organic, flowing and more the ‘artys’ side.


What was the University for the Creative Arts like?

Ann: It was brilliant. I really enjoyed it because we just got to make, we both focus a lot on the production side of things rather than the context side of things which kind of made our lives difficult in uni it’s all about paper work but we were able to try different methods of making and both found that we enjoyed this one the most.


How did you end up at the GlassHub and Teign Valley Glass?

Josh: Yeah so we worked with them. Ann did a lot more with the GlassHub which at the time was Glass Genie.

Ann: So the person who runs the GlassHub had a little business before hand that was the Glass Genie and she went out to schools and things and did sessions and I helped a lot with that when she was first doing that. Then she started up the glass hub again and we did a few sessions there helping teach bauble blowing, helping her to get set up and get the equipment sorted. Then we did a weeks work experience down at Teign Valley Glass.

Josh: That was the House of Marbles glass blowing studio then and we did a week with them staying in a very, very cold camper van cause it was the middle of winter. I think we did two or three days of helping them make stuff and then they let us have two or three days of making our own stuff so it was a good week down at Teign Valley Glass.


Why Cumbria and Florence Arts Centre?

Josh: It is where I am from. I grew up in Hensingham and then moved to Cockermouth, so went to Cockermouth Secondary School. I had always wanted to do glassblowing since to age of seven when we went down to the South of France and saw it being done in a studio in Clara and I got mesmerised by it and it was my intention to get into glass. So in school I was looking to do bits and at the end of school I looked to get onto a glass course and found Farnham was the best for my wants and needs. So I went to Farnham, met Ann and dragged her back up here.


You have attended the International Festival of Glass and Flame Off, is meeting people part of your philosophy?

Ann: Yeah, Flame Off we do every year and it’s quiet a big glass event in Britain. It is mostly aimed at what is called Lamp working. Which is working with hot glass but on what’s effectively a giant blowtorch but the organisers are trying to spread it a little bit further and get some more interest. They got us in a few years back and we go with the furness and are trying to build it up into something a bit bigger. It is a brilliant thing and we love going cause we always meet new people. The International Festival of Glass we did the first year out of uni.

Josh: We did that with K from the GlassHub and we took a prototype piece and did  an outdoors glass for the FG. We did a couple of days, did some demoing and that was good. That was more involved with KT, where as Flame Off we rented the furness from KT until this year when we have managed to get our own set up and we can do our own stuff. So we will be looking to go out and about as well as making in our own studio.


You have just been to Flo Fest, are there any other local festivals that you would like to attend?

Ann: We did the (Muncaster) Sausage Festival last year with the Lamp working set up but it was raining and was not quiet right. We have spoke to them about taking the furness to Muncaster Festival in a couple of years time, we have not got back in touch with them yet because we are in baby stages yet, something like that could be interesting. Ideally we would love to be able to go out and do the County Shows, the Eskdale, Ennerdale, Keswick and that kind of thing. It’s whether they will have us.


As part of what you are doing you are running courses can you tell us what you are running?

Josh: We are doing Glass blowing courses, you’re running a few fusing courses. So making Tea Light Holders and flat pieces.

Ann: Making pieces of jewelry and we have a Christmas decorating courses coming up, we will be fusing Christmas trees and we will be making Christmas baubles, bauble blowing at the beginning of December. We will be doing a bit of everything.


You run the courses, go out to festivals do you still produce your own work?

Josh: We are teaching the courses to get it out there and let people see it. We will be in time that we can be be producing our own pieces and selling those.

Ann: The teaching will be the bread and butter and then producing our own work will be a bonus.

Josh: When we are in the studio not teaching and running course we will be putting it up on Facebook and people can come and watch us make our pieces as well.


Hen Ogledd Glass have a studio at Florence Arts Centre and can be found on Facebook here.