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What is Cumbria Crystal?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to blow a glass bauble? Our very own Alice headed to Cumbria Crystal recently to do just that! Read on to find out more about this amazing experience.

 Recently I was invited down to visit Cumbria Crystal in the Market Town of Ulverston, to have a go creating objects out of molten glass! Now as someone who has spent way too much time on Youtube watching people make things out of glass needless to say I was incredibly excited, plus Cumbria Crystal is famous the world over (if you’ve ever watched Downton Abbey or James Bond you’ve probably seen some)

I thought I'd share with you a little bit about what it was like, and my tips for making the most out of this pretty unique experience:

1. It's very, very, VERY hot

A twsit being added to a paperweightI visited Ulverston (just south of the Lake District National Park) in the middle of a heatwave so I was pretty confident I could handle high temperatures, yet the heat on the factory floor hit me like a solid wall. Thankfully I acclimatised quickly, and was allowed to bring a bottle of water with me onto the floor (so long as I kept the lid on when I wasn't drinking out of it). When you sign up the folks at Cumbria Crystal give you guidelines on what to wear so you can stay safe (as amazing an experience as this is, molten glass can be dangerous if you don’t take care) and keep cooler. I dressed as they advised and I was comfortable, it felt like getting into a hot bath.

2. It was beautiful

 

 

Molten glass is stunning. It glows yellow in the furnace and moves magically as you spin the rod to get the right shape for your paperweight or bauble. It looks like melted hard-boiled sweets and was such a delight to see, the amazing feeling of watching the glass respond to your movements was great. When you craft something out of glass it feels like you're making something more real than a paper cut out. It's not something that I ever thought I would be doing, but it was magical. I am not the most elegant or well-coordinated person and still I felt like I was making a beautiful object- kudos to my instructor, Clare, who kept helping me correct my mistakes (when they tell you to keep rolling the rod so it doesn't get lopsided… keep rolling the rod!)

3. Blow a Bauble

I took part in two experiences at Cumbria Crystal, making a Bauble and a Paperweight. Both were incredible but if you can choose only one don’t pass up on the chance to blow a bauble. Available to children from ages 8+ (and yes, adults too), it's a bizarre and wonderful experience blowing down the metal rod and watching the blob of glass at the end expand with each breath. Plus, you get to keep the bauble, and it’s a great story to tell at Christmas when people are asking about your pretty, high-end glass bauble sitting pride of place on your tree. And, for those of you who (like me) coordinate absolutely everything at Christmas time, you get to pick your own colours so it will be one classy souvenir you’ll treasure forever.

4.Talk to the Staff

Our own Francine with Clare from Cumbria CrystalThe team at Cumbria Crystal really know their stuff and love their art. Have you ever spoken to someone so passionate about their craft that their enthusiasm feels catching? You will after a day here! I was incredibly impressed by Clare. Her love for what she did was wonderful and made the whole experience even more enjoyable.

In summary, this was one of the coolest things I have ever done! An incredible experience I’d recommend to anyone who loves industrial technology, arts and crafts, hands on experiences, or simply getting out of the rain (not that it ever rains here in Cumbria!) If it’s good enough for James Bond it’s good enough for me, and I think you’ll have a bau-ball (excuse the pun) too!

Vist their website

Cumbria Crystal is a Member of Cumbria Tourism. They provided this expereince as complimentry in exchange for some filming to be done on the premises. The blog is written by Alice Lawrence, an employee at Cumbria Tourism.

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