Bristol Blue Glass - The Beginning

Sunday, 1 January 2006  |  Admin

BRISTOL BLUE GLASS - THE BEGINNING

Hi, my name is Jim Adlington and for my sins I am the founder of 'Bristol Blue Glass Ltd' – I was born in Bristol in 1959 but was moved to London with my family, as my mother remarried in 1970. My parents on both sides were born and bred Bristolian's both being born in St Paul's in the 1930's. There was glass on both sides of the family too with 'Prices Glass' on dad’s side and JB Glass on mum's side.

As a child I was told about 'Bristol Blue' by Jack my grampher when he said that it was Cobalt that made the colour, in a knowing way. He said a lot to me, having lead an interesting life, most of the things he said were quite terrifying for a 5 year old but very philosophical I suppose. But speaking to other family members I think he had a soft spot for me, I certainly thought he was fantastic.  

The latter part of my childhood was spent on a south London council estate with a great bunch of kids, to play and get into all sorts of scrapes with. I consider myself very lucky to have grown up at this time, with the freedoms allowed naturally, without the interference of authority. I did cross a few coppers, one punched me in the eye for telling him to f%^* off, and when I went home tail between legs, my dad gave me another in tother eye to, 'balance me out', so he said. Lesson learnt.

 

 My life was dysfunctional all the way to 24 when I walked away from a bad marriage, and ended up back home in Montpelier (turns out next door to where Mum and Dad lived after 1st getting married). The music hadn't worked out but I had learnt how to lead and solder back in London. So in 1984 with a couple of friends 'HMG of Bristol' was started (Still in Perry Road to this day). HMG stands for 'Hand Made Glass' or 'Heavy machine Gun' or 'Hippies Make Good' the choice is yours.

 We designed and made Stained glass objects from windows to figurines, mirrors, the fragrancer etc..

A lot of stuff we made was in Blue which was the most popular colour by miles. One day I completed a competition to design a new stained glass window for a new school in the 'Artist's Newsletter' – The design was simple, to get the kids to draw a picture of children playing with a back ground of 'Bristol Blue Glass'. I sent it off and forgot all about it. Six months later we received a call from the organisers telling me that I had won the commission and the Bristol blue had swayed them. The issue was that there was nowhere the glass was being made in Britain let alone Bristol.

Necessity being the mother of invention I had to get creative and quick. I had met a glass maker called Peter St Claire from Cornwall and decided to pay him a visit at his workshop. So I drove my old Commer Van to Helston and phoned him – it took me several pints to convince him to turn his 'Pot' blue but thankfully he did and we made some beautiful spun Blue glass roundels. Having the experience of working with Peter in his studio making the glass, convinced me that this was where I wanted to be namely in 'The hot Shop'.

I returned to Bristol glass in hand and made the window for the school, it was a success.

I then had to get glass making back to Bristol so I conceived of an exhibition and called it 'Hot Glass' and invited several hot glass artists to provide work for the show. The theme was 'Blue'. Peter was the only artist who followed the brief and was the only artist who sold. So I persuaded him to bring a mobile workshop to Bristol and we set up the exhibition 'Hot Glass 88' this was in March that year. We hired a tiny workshop in Colston yard and set up studio, we opened on a Friday evening to a resounding success.

The following Monday 'Bristol Blue Glass' was incorporated and the company was born.