A bauble experience at Cumbria Crystal was always going to be a winning birthday treat for me! Glass blowing (which I've always wanted to try) and a Christmas bauble made by my very own hands? Yes!
My daughter and I suitably festive - me in my Christmas jumper and her in her hat (had just settled down for a long winters nap - sorry I couldn't resist that!) As I was saying, my daughter and I checked in with the friendly, smiley staff at Cumbria Crystal and mooched around the shop while we awaited our glass blowing moment.
(My daughter felt the need to remind me of my reputation for breaking glasses so I didn't get too close to the display cabinets...)
The glassware is absolutely mesmerising as it sparkles in the light and the stunning pieces, some of which have been used on tv, are a real tribute to everyone involved in the process.
Any crystal that's been on Downton Abbey is sure to impress me! My daughter was equally impressed to discover a bowl of beautiful marbles that had been made on site and promptly treated herself on the basis of nostalgia!
(Hint to Cumbria Crystal - pretty please start a glassblowing marble experience!)
The workshop is an array of furnaces, tools of the trade and skilled glass blowers doing their thing. We could see wine glasses being made and it was amazing to watch the craftsmanship that was going into creating beautiful glasses, all from a blob on the end of a pipe!
Our artisan Neil (font of knowledge!) looked after us and answered all the questions we asked like giddy kids. We chose our coloured glass, white and blue for me, green and aubergine for my daughter. (It's got to match the tree of course!) Then we rolled our blob of molten glass through our coloured glass sprinkles, and it was reheated in the glowing furnace. While keeping the pipe and its treacle like glass constantly moving, Neil shaped it using his tools. Skills!
When it came to the blowing, I wondered if my general lack of puff would hinder the process and result in me taking a drooping glass mess home! It seemed to take a while for my breath to travel down the blow pipe and into my pre-bauble blob but suddenly, it began to expand, stretching the colours with it!
I was blowing glass!
So for a short while, we heated the glass, blew it and shaped it until it was just right. My beautiful bauble was settled into a nest of cotton and then Neil added a blob of molten glass to the top of it! A big risk as far as I was concerned until he transformed the blob skilfully into a glass loop and my bauble was complete!
My husband and I had laughed about my bauble potentially being one of those childhood creations. You know, the ones that are accepted with a smile whilst behind a toothy grin lies the question of what is it?! At which he suggested simply buying one from Cumbria Crystal rather than have to display mine round the back of the tree!
Thankfully, my bauble is beautiful and I'm proud of my work (albeit with skilled assistance)
It was a process I could have watched all day, an amazing craft. Our baubles were ready to collect the following day and now have pride of place on our Christmas trees.
We really enjoyed our experience, it was a great way to have some time together and to create something that becomes one of those special tree ornaments to be admired year after year.
So a big thank you to my sister in law for this amazing gift (no you can't have my bauble!) and thank you to Neil and all at Cumbria Crystal who are friendly, welcoming and amazingly skilled people.
Now take my word for it and book your experience here while there's still time!
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