Bringing back the ancient art of Glassblowing to the Weald

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An artist who blows glass in Cranleigh is aiming to bring the profession back to the Weald after centuries away for the public to enjoy.

Jake Mee, who commutes in from Aldershot every day, runs Smithbrook Glassblowing Studio off the A281, where he has been based for the last year, after ten years in the industry .

They offer short courses, a chance to make a memento or paperweight, or a chance to see a master in action.

He said: “When I set this up I did not just want it just for glassblowers, I wanted people to come here and get in touch with their creative side.”

Stored at 1000 degrees, the molten glass is attached to a stainless steel tube, which users blow through to inflate the glass.

Colours are mixed in, and then the glass is struck off with an iron and allowed to cool down gradually for ten to 12 hours.

The smaller kilns are only made possible by Pielectronics, a company from Stourbridge in the Midlands, run by Merlyn Farwelll, built to energy efficient specifications.

Jake added: “People come here and working who have never done glassblowing and just want to be creative.

“It’s a very difficult material to work with, it takes a lot of skill and dedication.

“You really have to be patient with the material to make it work.”

He explained that Chiddingfold, in Surrey, would have been the centre for glassblowing in the country 400 years ago, and there was a real attraction starting in the Weald.

“It’s been long and it’s been a hard road. I have gained experience from a lot of different places and I’m fulfilling a dream right now,” he said.

“This has always been my ambition to get my own glassblowing studio and to get that is incredible. It’s all about teamwork.”

He added: “I get great satisfaction from working with the material and working with other people.”

He receives various different commissions, some more challenging than others.

He said: “Sometimes I get back and go, ‘wow how did I pull that off?’”

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