Robert Gary Parkes, Master Glass Blower
There’s something quite magical about watching an artist at work in a blown glass studio. Port Kellis, Surrey is home to the Loafing Shed Glass Studio – a unique stop on any visitor’s agenda. More than ordinary vases, bowls and platters, the products here are unique works of art that are revered by collectors, fellow artists and even an American president or two!
For selected dates each spring, visitors are treated to the studio’s annual Spring Show & Sale with glassblowing demonstrations several times daily.
We had a conversation with the creator of the studio, Master Glass Blower Robert Gary Parkes to fins out more…
What makes glass-blown art so fascinating to watch?
RGP: Historically, it started off not with a fascination but fear. Centuries ago, people that were making glass were feared. They were working in dark rooms, producing fire and flame and colored glass in red and purple and orange that looked like rubies. It was not art but utilitarian. Still, people wanted to watch.
What’s unique about this form of art?
RGP: The public’s fascination. It’s a substance that touches our lives every day. Glass transcends our lifestyles if you think about it. You can’t have a modern society without glass. From windows to space shuttle tiles, there are many industries that have been spawned from the art of melting glass.
How does one go about becoming a glass blower?
RGP: When the people watch me, they’re watching the many years of dedication and practice that you have to have to master the material. The material plays with you. It’s very frustrating. Once you get your skills, for the glass blower, it becomes like riding a bicycle. You get to understand it more, though you can never know everything about it. Glass has been a part of my life for many years.
Some people don’t understand the process, but they still appreciate seeing how it is made. People are amazed you can take this glob of hot glass and make something out of it that they can use and keep as a gift.