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You are in: Wear > History > Glass > A touch of glass

Colin Brown in front of the furnace

Colin Brown in front of the furnace

A touch of glass

A tutor at Sunderland's National Glass Centre has been chosen to make a trophy for the Great Women's Run for the next 10 years.

Colin Brown never considered himself any good at art, but with an impressive back catalogue of his glass creations, it is no wonder he was picked to design the trophy for the Great Women's Run.

"Being a Sunderland event, and a Sunderland lad myself I've watched the run before in previous years.

"I live quite close to the sea front so I like to go down and see what's going on. So to be part of it this year is quite exciting," said Colin.

The trophy that Colin makes will be used for the next 10 years. The winner of the run will have their name engraved on the side but it will then be passed on to the next winner, keeping a smaller version for themselves.

Colin shaping glass

The glass here will be around 700ºC

Sparking the creativity

So for inspiration for what will be a coveted piece, Colin turned to one of the places many of us love to visit and is a big part of the Great Women's Run.

He said: "We're looking at the sea, the beach, Sunderland sea front, the coast and the water.

"I'd pick these keywords, put a few sketches down and do a few little test pieces and try ideas out. We all sit down as a team and pick out what we like and what we don't like.

"We've made trophies for the Great North Run ... and the director of a company just happened to be at the Glass Centre and had seen some of my work and he commissioned me to make a piece which went down to London for the BBC [National Television] awards.

"They liked it, and next year came back again for another one," said Colin.

As with many hobbies and career choices, they are quite often sparked by childhood memories, and Colin's story is no exception.

"I loved to build things and take things apart. I'd get hold of my dad's tools and strip things down.

"I was always interested in art, but I never considered myself any good at it.

Colin heating glass

Temperatures can reach 1000ºC

"I can't draw, I'm not very good at drawing even now, I can make a piece of glass but I can't draw that piece of glass.

"I think it's more of a hobby than a job and even 10 years later, it still is that.

"Everything you make in glass has to cool down for 24 hours. So if you've had a great day and you've made the glass, you can't wait to get up the next day, come in and see what you've made so you can take it to the next step," said Colin.

Priceless glass tumbler?

It turns out that sometimes you just can not put a price on certain pieces and as Colin explains, he would simply not give up his very first piece.

"I do still have my first ever piece, I think everybody's first piece looks the same. It's a misshapen bubble come whisky tumbler. Every glass blower has one, every glass blower keeps their first piece.

"What's weird is that I can make a piece of glass that is worth up to £2,000 to £3,000 in value. But none will be more precious to me than this misshapen little tumbler that I still have," said a proud Colin.

Listen to the full interview with Colin, take a look at him in action and browse some of his finished pieces in our gallery:

BBC Radio Newcastle's Alfie Joey also met up with Colin and had a go at making his own vase, listen to see how he got on:

last updated: 21/04/2008 at 15:50
created: 05/03/2008

You are in: Wear > History > Glass > A touch of glass

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