Will’s been demoted.
There’s something quite lovely about watching a master glassblower having to become an assistant for someone else. Grounding, you might say.
We’ve been visited by our friend and top glass maker Helen Millard who brings with her new techniques and ideas for colour and design, but she requires Will to give her a helping hand.
So he’s been preparing punties and holding paddles, and sorting colour – all to allow Helen to create her own pieces while she’s here at the Shakspeare Glass workshop.
Her work is more delicate and feminine than Will’s (surprise!) and watching them working together is quite lovely because it’s like they’ve both forgotten everything they ever learned, and they’re relearning everything all over!
It’s now debatable as to who makes for the best assistant – Johnny or Will? Helen will have to let me know when neither of them are around!
I find it really interesting watching Helen work because I’m used to Will’s glass and the way it looks and feels, and Helen’s is so very different. It’s more precise, a little lighter looking, and just very unlike what we’re used to seeing at Shakspeare HQ. It’s kind of like comparing apples and oranges. Both of them produce such different styles.
For Will, I think he quite likes having the pressure off a little bit. Being asked to help, rather than being the one asking for it. And he enjoys seeing how another glassblower uses different tools, different techniques and processes.
The pair of them seem to have made a pact against daytime drinking (temporarily at least), as from what I’ve heard that didn’t end well last time – a few too many breakages, and a bit too much giggling. Even so, the current summer weather isn’t making things very easy, with Helen finding Will’s workshop insanely hot (Will has explained that it’s no hotter than any other glassblower’s workshop), but perhaps working somewhere new has that effect!
There’s a lot of laughter, a lot of discussion, and a lot of exasperation as one tries to figure out what exactly the other is trying to do.
But when it works out it’s lovely; and the workshop has never been so full of ammonites, and pinks, pastels and other “girly” colours.
In case you’ve not heard of Helen before, she’s renowned for her cameo glass – the detail in her work is pretty phenomenal and her pieces can take weeks to finish. She’s inspired by nature and like me, she’s a sucker for vibrant colours!
You can visit Helen in Abbotsbury, where her gallery is based – but now and again, you can pop in and see her right here. Hooray!