Mike Hunter of Twists Glass Studio in Selkirk, Scotland,
began his love affair with glass as a small boy, gazing with fascination at the
colourful, magical twists contained in the marbles he played with. Later, as a
17-year-old apprentice with Wedgwood Glass of Kings Lynn, Norfolk, he remembers
asking the master glassblowers how the intricately designed glasses he had seen
at the museums were made. None of them could tell him.
It struck him then just how many skills of the 18th century
were being lost as more and more machines were introduced to glassmaking, and
he determined right then to figure out how they were made and to see if he
could learn the techniques himself. On many trips to the museum, without being
able to pick up the glasses, he peered into the display cabinets and took
notes. After seven years of trial and error at the factory during his lunch
breaks, he succeeded in perfecting a technique of embedding coloured glass
canes and air into the stems of glassware – a technique not used commercially
since Victorian times.
After spending 11 years with Wedgwood, training under master
glassblowers from the UK, Italy, Austria, Germany and Scandinavia, and
attaining the position of master glass blower and coloured animal maker, he
moved to Wales to work for Welsh Royal Crystal as a trainee stem maker. By the
time he left Wales, he had mastered many technical disciplines, including
designing, reproducing antique glass for museums, free-blowing and stem-forming
techniques to production standards, including air-twists, incised twists, cane
and straw stems. Already, he had started to practice the Venetian “vetro”
technique that was to become his specialty. During this time, he studied and
successfully completed the Open Learning Course in Glass Manufacturing.
In 1999, Mike achieved his dream of opening up his own
studio, Twist Studio Glass.
At Twists Studio Glass, Mike produces designs with
cane-working techniques, creating traditional contemporary glassware styles
based on the designs of 16th and 17th century Venice and 18th century England.
He created his flagship technique of “vetro”, the Italian for glass, which
demonstrates the combination of his natural talent for design with the highest
level of technical skill. The result is a vast array of colour in design that
speaks of his unique relationship with glass; the glass on the blowing iron
becomes one with Mike as, with a sense of ease and speed, the molten glass is
commanded into form– his “vetro”.
Mike has received high recognition and exhibited his work
throughout the UK.