It’s Christmas, a time of light and sparkle. And for this, glass is the ultimate material. Glittering, translucent, and richly coloured, glass has graced Christmas celebrations for centuries. And now, you can blow your own Christmas bauble in Yorkshire, thanks to Tim Simon, of Uredale Glass in Masham, North Yorkshire.
Flat glass is cut cold and pieced together to make stained glass windows. But to blow a Christmas tree bauble, the glass is heated until it glows red, and softens to a consistency like Golden Syrup. Then, it can be gathered on a hollow metal pipe, and blown into a bubble – the bauble.
German glass makers first blew baubles centuries ago. They were popularised throughout the Western world by FW Woolworth, who imported them into his chain stores.
Now, Woolies is gone, and ‘non-shatter’ baubles are made from acrylic. But Tim will take a student for a day, patiently teach skills that took him years to learn, and assist them to blow their very own Christmas bauble.
One of the attractions of making your own bauble is to choose your colours. Tim’s work glows with sumptious colours, red, blue, green, purple. The light shines through and brings them alive.
Working with hot glass is, says Tim, very expensive, because of the energy needed to melt the glass. And it takes years to perfect the skills. A student, under guidance, may blow a bauble in one day. To blow a pair of matching vases, as Tim does, takes years of practice.
Tim has that experience. In the far-off days when he learned to blow glass, he recalls, a boy came round the works dispensing beer to the parched workers. “It was a special weak brew,” he comments, “For steel and glass workers.”
Those days are gone, but Tim and his wife Maureen now have one of the country’s longest established art glass studios. They hope it will prosper for many more years, as their daughter, Zoe, continues the family tradition of working in glass.
Read more in Dalesman Magazine, December 2017 issue
Contact Tim at https://uredale.co.uk/