Video tours and vlogs that will walk you through the history, artistry, heritage and legacy that is Stourbridge glass. See the places, meet the people; learn about their working hours, their tools, the methods, their decoration techniques; and the designers.

Meet the Designers

This talk describes how art and design developed in glassware. The elements of good design are functional, practical, ergonomic, aesthetically pleasing and affordable. and good designers lead fashion;  making objects that are both desirable and collectable.

Starting 2500 years BC with the glass beads found in Egypt and Assyria, we progress through Roman times, Medieval glass, the glass-makers of Murano and the influence of ‘facon-de-Venise’. In England, George Ravenscroft revolutionized glassware with the development of lead crystal. We follow the development of fashion in glassware into the modern era and introduce you to some of the 20th Century designers, both in house and commissioned who made sure that Stuart Crystal Products were both desirable and at the forefront of fashion.

Stourbridge Red House Glass Cone Outside Tour with Kate Round

A short audio tour to introduce you to the site of the iconic Red House Glass Cone, in Wordsley, Stourbridge. This is a Grade II listed building that was the home of the famous Stuart Crystal lead-crystal tableware. Now open to the public as a museum, it preserves and showcases the history, architecture, and heritage that is Stourbridge Glass

Inside the Red House Glass Cone Stourbridge

Take a walk with me around the inside of this unique structure. It is one of only four in the country, and the only complete cone, where you can watch glass being made on a daily basis. Based on the revolutionary 19th century technology of a blast furnace, it changed glass-making from a simple ‘forest-glass-making’ process to prosperous industrial manufactory.

Making Glass at The Red House Glass Cone Stourbridge

Stuart Crystal Tableware was made here at The Red House Glass Cone for over 150 years. The fine lead crystal was hand-blown and crafted by skilled glass-makers to Stuart’s own secret composition; thus, ensuring consistent quality. The lead content in the melt was unique to each glasshouse and guaranteed a constant weight and brilliance in each piece. Watch the glass-makers, learn about their tools, the secret ‘recipe’, the teams and their artisan skills

Decorating Glass Stuart Crystal at The Red House Glass Cone

The cold side of the industry, was where some of the innovative ways of decorating glassware, cutting, engraving, etching enameling, and gilding. This was a means of adding value to a relatively inexpensive item. As fashions changed so did the designs of the glassware to appeal to their brand market. It was also a clever marketing tool as customers aspired to collect whole sets of a design.

Glassmakers their strange shift pattern and pay

The strange shift system worked by glassmakers was known as a Journey and divided into Turns and Moves. The pay system was complicated, and production was capped by Flint Glassmakers Union, to ensure that workers earned a minimum wage for their skills. The innovative use of hand-made tools, and a proficiency in mental arithmetic, ensured that they increased their earnings known as overwork. They completed their contracted work in less time and were free to Journey and work elsewhere. In 1858 this led to the Long Strike and Lockout.

Glassmakers Tools

Glass making in Stourbridge in the century from the 1850’s was a flourishing and extremely successful industry, with many family-run businesses. Although it was an industrial process, the glass was handmade. It is an art form like hand-made pottery, where pieces are free formed, blown and fashioned to perfection. Glassmakers needed hard earned skills and dexterity to produce delicate lead crystal tableware in the dark, hot, and bustling conditions of a Victorian factory floor. 

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