Glass Eye: 2020 - the year of covid and stemware


What would a global pandemic mean for a glassblower and his team?

It’s a question I never thought I’d write, but here we are – heading into 2021 with lockdowns, tiers, and uncertainly still ahead of us.

My initial naïve view was that maybe a lockdown or two would provide the perfect opportunity for Will and Johnny to create new things, become inspired, and have plenty of “lightbulb” moments.

But the creatives in the know tell me that when you’re stressed and anxious about things, creativity really doesn’t flow as freely as you’d think.

Before 2020 (a year which will forever be known as the year of Covid) Will’s focus was to develop his signature pieces, and work on a few ideas that had been bubbling below the surface.  Will and Johnny had big plans to visit other makers and learn new skills – they did actually manage to get one day’s blacksmithing in. Sadly, coracle building has been deferred – what could possibly go wrong!

So when the pandemic hit, the focus switched to just being in a position to carry on after lockdown and adapting to the new norm.

Instead, it was about developing the website – check it out, it’s looking pretty slick  - encouraging online sales, engaging with customers digitally rather than face to face (developing our Instagram reels), and hoping that we’d come out the other end.

Despite all the firefighting, it did switch on a light for Will (bear with me, there are a lot of lightbulb references!)

There were real positives. Learning not to be complacent, to be realistic about production, and to realise that sometimes change is a good thing.

One thing that 2020 provided was time.

Since forever, Johnny has been pestering Will to teach him how to make stemware. Naturally Will told him he wasn’t good enough.

But they’ve had a full two weeks dedicated to perfecting the art, and now, Johnny is confidently assisting in cider, gin, wine, brandy, and any other glass that involves a stem. Hurrah!

So there’s been progress – new glassware ranges, an upgraded website, loads of fixed equipment, a successful annual sale and open day, despite it being a little different to usual, and now with 2021 here, there’s a renewed fire burning for even more extraordinary and beautiful glass.

No doubt now Johnny has figured how to help on the stemware he’ll be asking to learn about more challenging pieces. Whether or not Will lets him is another matter!

To see what the boys have been creating over 2020, click here for their full range of glassware– after all, if we’re locked down much longer, we might as well stock up on decent glasses for all the drinking we’ll be doing!

So it only remains to say Happy New Year to you, I’ll be reporting back next month on all things workshop-related – let’s hope 2021 is a better year for all.