Marc McCarty

Glassblower & Art Teacher, Glassblowing Jersey

I start work at 8am so I can light the furnace (which is really impressive!). Whilst the glass melts I put the kettle on and make some drawings for the day’s production. I always have a plan for my own artwork or commission, so this time is very important. After coffee, I prepare all the colours and tools to make the glass pieces for that day. I have a small gallery next to my hotshop, so I layout the glass and create signage, clean and polish the glass to prepare for the days visitors. Then I start to blow glass! The glass is gathered on hollow rods called blowing irons and shaped with tools or wet newspaper into various forms. Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn’t. But I have learnt to be resilient, because I love making hot glass!

How did you get your job?
I went to Highlands College to study the one year Foundation Diploma In Art & Design. After which I gained a place on the three year degree course in Hot Glass Design and Sculpture at Wolverhampton University. I won a scholarship to Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle and studied there for a while before touring around the famous glass factories in Sweden learning as much as possible. On returning to Jersey I studied to become an Art Teacher at Highlands College and have recently set up Glassblowing Jersey.

What motivates you in this role?
My motivation comes from my incessant urge to create beautiful objects that will help make the world a more interesting and beautiful place.

Are there any future skills you will need to learn for your role?
The skill of glassblowing requires that you learn new techniques all the time! A glassblower could spend 40 years on the irons and still not know it all!

What are the three most important skills required for your role?
The most important skills to acquire for hot glass making are good hand to eye coordination, a good sense of design and being able to evaluate your mistakes and plan new ways to proceed.

What advice would you give someone interested in a career in your profession?
Study hot glass design at University then spend a couple of years assisting other glassblowers in a studio or small factory. Alternatively you could offer your assistance for free on a part time basis or gain an apprenticeship in an established studio.

FUN FACT
In the old days, the glass makers of Venice, were locked away on the island of Murano, to stop them spreading glass making secrets.