Women in the glass industry

Edith Shutt, Acid-dipping at Stuart Crystal, Red House Glass Cone

The White House Cone Glass Museum is custodian of many thousands of pieces of glassware reflecting the skills and artistry of glassblowers, designers, and decorators from the Stourbridge area for over 400years. It reflects the industrial efforts from such world-renowned makers as Richardson’s, Stuart Crystal, Royal Brierley Crystal and Webb Corbett’s. Yet how many pieces in the collection have been produced solely by women?

Within those hot working factory conditions, it was said that the only limitation to the glass-blower’s art is ‘the strength in his arm’ and the hot shops were considered at be an all-male environment, women were not allowed. Archive sources and ladies who worked in the glass industry have helped me uncover a fascinating account of this ‘glass ceiling’.  From the 1860’s to the present day. This is a revealing account of changing attitudes and the struggles between Unions, Management and workers to allow women to do ‘men’s work’.

Published by Kate Round

My name is Dr Kate Round; I am an outreach presenter and tour guide for Dudley Museum Service In my previous life, I was a research chemist so understand the chemistry of glass having worked on the synthesis of ‘zeolites’ (silica based materials) with my work published in International Journals. I have always lived in the Black Country and have a strong industrial family heritage.

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