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“Glass blowing must be kept going for the community”

by admin on June 5, 2013

HAND CRAFTED: Jo Stephen puts the wine glass into shape.

TURNING CENTRE: Jo carefully turns the glass on a stick in the middle of the furnace.

GLASS TOOLS: Emsie Sharp, at her studio in Child Okeford with some of the sticks used to turn the glass in the furnace.

A GLASS blower made a set of wine glasses in the space of two hours inside a literal oven on a hot summer’s day.

After completing her studies at the West Surrey College of Art and Design in Farnborough, Emsie Sharp spent three years on the Isle of Murano, Venice, assisting in the creation of wine glasses and chandeliers.

Since returning to the UK in 2002, she has run a studio in different locations in Dorset and is now based at the Cow Shed, Gold Hill Organic Farm, Child Okeford, and she is assisted by Jo Stephen.

Esmie said: “I have been in the trade for 20 years. I didn’t do any glass blowing before I went to art college in 1993.

“I wanted to hand make things and I wanted to keep the skill going. It is important to me that it is made by a person. I don’t want perfection but I do want quality. I want to give something back to the community.”

This blog went to visit Esmie and Jo at Esmie’s studio and the following process unfolded. When the glass was blown, a ball of melted glass was placed on the end of a hollow iron tube and placed into a specifically shaped mold. The glass is then blown into this mold and water creates a jacket of steam around the hot glass and gives every item its silky smooth surface.

“ The furnace heats up to 1,280’C before and when it cools down at 1,100’C, we can start the turning and put in the stick. It is very important that it keeps in the centre as if it goes off centre, everything goes wrong.”

Once the body was shaped, piece specific details are added before cooling and every neck and every decanter is formed by hand. The wine glass had a stem added and shaped again entirely by hand.

When Esmie or Jo finished the piece, it is allowed to cool and is broken free from the blowing tube and placed in a temperature-controlled tunnel that enables a slow cooling process to prevent the glass shattering.

Soda ash, silicon and lime are the main ingredients of the glass but barium sometimes to add to the glass’s brilliance and boron to increase heat resistance. Recycled glass is also frequently used and called cullet.

Esmie was commissioned by the BBC, in partnership with the National Trust, to produce some Georgian-inspired wine glasses to coincide with a documentary called The Manor Reborn, which covered the restoration of the 500-year-old Avebury Manor in Wiltshire.

Wine glasses can be blown to order in the form of flutes; Georgian-style glasses; glasses with a blown foot or in different colours. Glasses are by no means the regular items made – tableware in the form of tumblers, carafes and jugs can also be made in different shapes and colours.

“Very few people make hand-made glasses in the traditional lead chrystal.”

Other items that can be made to order are pear drop lamps, baubles, cube lamps, pebble lamps, vases, drawer knobs and paper weights.

People can also do one-day courses learning about the traditional methods of glass blowing; bauble or paper weight half days or private tuition and studio hire.

Emsie added: “We do teach courses in the winter. We have day courses for four people and half day courses to get people in.”

  • IF anyone wants to find out more information about doing courses or any of her work, they can contact Emsie through her website at


I like to travel and have visited much of Europe, including the Czech Republic, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Italy, France and Belgium. I would like to visit Slovakia and Poland too as have close friends from there. My skills in languages (other than those listed) are fairly limited but I think it is always important to remember the yes, nos, please, thankyous, goodbyes and how are yous, as it is greatly appreciated and shows the visitor is taking an interest.

I am a member of the National Trust and volunteered for them in the mid 1990s in properties around the Cambridgeshire area. I also did voluntary work for the Wildlife Trust. I like to do my shopping with small business when I can.

I like walking, cycling and swimming in the sea (so long as it's now too cold)


Proficient user of Word Press. 15 years experience as administrator and office support worker. Reliable, hardworking, computer literate, easy to contact via website, Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.

Work experience

Work experience
Jan 2013 - Present

Clear as a Bell

I set up my website - - with the expressed intention of supporting community life, particularly small businesses and charity get their messages out. As a former agricultural college student, I also want to support everything to do with the countryside, its heritage, customs and culture. It is my wish to combine my website with supporting small businesses in dealing with their social media campaigns. Many may not have the knowledge or the time to deal with social media but I need to regularly use them to get my posts out on the web.

I am also looking for commercial sponsorship for my site and am particularly looking for small business in the categories mentioned above. If you are a large company, don't waste your time contacting me.

Below are some of recent examples of businesses I have supported on my blog.

Comins Tea House

Unique Purbeck Gardens

Gold Hill Organic Farm

Pure Warrior

Experience Falconry

Sharp Glass

Some of the other posts are about experiences abroad  (particularly in the Czech Republic). I like travelling and have developed a skill and passion for highlighting  the positive attributes of other countries and their cultures.

May 2009 - Apr 2013

Postroom administrator

SOS Recruitment

During this period I was working mainly  in one department whilst using skills to work in another when they were short-staffed.

Our six-person team (three full timers and three part-timers) sorted 2,000 to 2,500 letters daily for five courier rounds covering the east of Dorset (Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Wimborne, Swanage, Wareham, Ferndown and the villages in between). We also sorted the post for the hospitals and clinics.

We were responsible for the despatch of controlled prescriptions to all health clinicians. All were written out in triplicate books with consignment numbers. This was necessary to enable them to be tracked so that they did not fall in the wrong hands. On the rare occasion if a number was wrong, a missing prescription was usually able to be tracked due to the paperwork. When  there was one not accounted for, a drug alert would be raised with the missing consignment number.

We sorted medical records for despatch internally via courier and outside Dorset via TNT courier. We used their Express Shipper software to process the data in time for the pick up. TNT would drop at 7.30am and return at 3pm. If and when the registration department was short-staffed and I was unavailable, I went in to assist them in the logging in of patients' medical records for internal or external despatch.

We also despatched 40-50 daily orders for stationery, blood bottles, needles, syringes and forms for GP surgeries, pharmacies, dentists and opticians all around Dorset.

The people I used to work for was Dorset Primary Care Trust and for the last nine months, the team was dealing with Shared Business Services, who took over the service provision of practitioner support services. As the PCT no longer exists, I have put SBS's web page in the company URL box.

Jun 2008 - Mar 2009

Data Processor

Barclays Bank

This is a placement that has to be explained. I was acting as a contractor for SOS REcruitment but was being paid by the Hays Personnel agency. The client was Barclays Bank. I worked in the global payments division on the fourth floor of Barclays Bank, Poole,, processing payments for clients of the bank both internally in the UK and across the world. The payments are checked at least by two tiers above the processor role before eventually being released.

This placement meant having to know abbreviations for international currencies; the swifts of banks both in UK, the EU and across the world and inputting full ibans of accounts where funds for corporate and medium business clients were destined for.

We also had to know about how the exchange rate effected the values of currencies against one another and knowledge of the Sanctions Policy, as legislated for by the UK Treasury, was absolutely mandatory.

Jun 1999 - May 2005

Type setter/community reporter

Western Gazette

I was initially a type setter brought in after relocating from another part of UK and was looking for a way into the press to write on the issues affecting the countryside. The newspaper, The Western Gazette, used to cover much of the counties of Dorset and Somerset but due to the economic climate it has recently had to reduce its catchment area. I was offered the farming column after I made the suggestion I could get to a wider audience for the newspaper but targeting a specific part of the rural community involved in managing the land, due to my further education training, i was offered it. I turned it a fortnightly-published column into a four-page spread that was published on a weekly basis. Due to information about my background, an agricultural machinery manufacturer came forward to sponsor that the column. This was one of my biggest career achievements.

Between June 2009 and November 2011, I was an unpaid newspaper columnist writing for the same publication in their Readers Write section and wrote on many issues affecting the countryside.

Below is a link to one of my columns during that period

The Exmoor Emperor



Sep 1989 - Oct 1992

Higher National Diploma

Plymouth University


Jan 1994 - Apr 1994

Cambridge Secretarial College

Certificate in Business Administration
Jan 1994 - Apr 1994

Cambridge Secretarial College

Certificate in Business Administration