The Glass Makers of Cockington Court
Being rather a little bear (but of exceedingly large intellect, I might add), and one who doesn't make anything, or contribute to the creative reality day to day, I am drenched in admiration for the artisans who display their skills at Cockington Court Craft Centre.
Only yesterday, after taking my usual elevenses in the Tea Rooms, I wandered round to the old stable yard, and hence to the glass blowing studio... where I loitered a while, watching the OurGlass magicians using methods that go back to the Romans to turn recycled glass into graceful creations of colour and texture.
I suppose all craft and art is, in varying degrees, a matter of being in control... even if the creator invites the random, or even the chaotic, to influence the final outcome. But, with the glass makers of Cockington, although they do impose their creative will on the hot, thick, organic treacle that is molten glass, it seems to me more that they are actually empathising, coaxing, asking each globule to be the best it can be.
The contradictions intrigue me: the sharpness, the angularity of the raw material becoming smooth and curvy; the pliability of the hot state returning to the unforgiving fragility of the cold; the broken raw ingredient becoming whole as it is transformed into unique objects of dancing beauty. For, although in its cold state the glass is no longer organic, the reincarnated pieces retain a strong sense of movement, as though they remember a time when they were fluid, and able to go with the flow of their maker's imagination.
Each 'gather' of molten glass is a blank canvas. The glass maker works quickly: pulling, shaping, rolling, bevelling, turning, swinging the rod to and fro like a pendulum, polishing and finally engraving... for these are all signature pieces. Sometimes, two members of the team will sychronise to transfer a piece from one rod to another, like parents passing on the care of an infant.
It's quite hypnotic, observing the complete involvement of a maker. And, for the glass makers of Cockington, how satisfying it must be to see a project right through... from shards of broken glass, via the design process and a perfect moment of creation, to seeing another appreciative customer leave with a future antique and family heirloom tucked safely under their arm.
It's dashed tiring though... watching other people work. Fortunately, at Cockington Court, lunch is always a mere stroll away.