Bedfordshire glassblowing expert passes on ancient art

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The ancient art of glassblowing dates back thousands of years – and it is still practised today by masters of the craft.

One such master is Ricky Keech who explains the technique of inflating molten glass into a bubble (or parison), with the aid of a blowpipe (or blow tube) – carrying out each step with delicacy and precision.

Bedford man Ricky, 52, developed an interest in glassblowing while at university but thought he’d pass on the skill by starting his own classes in 2012.

His workship is based in Rectory Lane, Ampthill, with classes suitable for all beginners to ‘try their hand at this moulten art’.

Ricky said: “One of the main differences with my course is I run a small class, so it’s always just two per class.

“This makes it quite different to other glassblowing classes, as the numbers can be higher, but I like to run it this way because it allows me to have more input with each student.

“This way they get to cover a lot off different skills needed within glassblowing.

“The students are quite surprised at how much they cover in each lesson, and assume they will make only a couple of one off objects but they are always guaranteed to produce at least four individual pieces.

“It’s not a question of me producing it for them – it’s a hands-on course so the students can build up the skills as they progress through the day.”

Ricky studied fine art, ceramics and glassblowing at Brunel University London after completing a foundation art and design course at Barnfield College.

He added: “I think glassblowing is fascinating, just watching it was, but after having a go myself I was totally hooked and decided after a number of classes that was what I wanted to specialise in.

“After graduating I thought it would be impossible to start up a fully equipped glassblowing workshop so I initially began doing it with other students until I could get my own workshop and furnace.

“I eventually managed to set up my own studio and I have been working for four years now.

“I have even been asked to put cremation ashes into glass, which we have done, and this is what I hope to develop next year.”

Classes cost £140 for six hours (10am-4pm) and students are guaranteed to make four pieces.

For more information or to book a glassblowing class with Ricky, visit: www.keechcreations.com/glassblowing-courses