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International Festival of Glass at the cone

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Wordsley’s historic Red House Glass Cone will again be at the heart of this summer’s International Festival of Glass.

At the heart of Stourbridge’s historic Glass Quarter the cone will be hosting a range of exhibitions, workshops and events over the four day festival which runs from 23 to 26 August.  This year’s them is ‘Placemaking’ a design approach that puts people at the centre and develops a sense of belonging.


The iconic cone, which was built at the end of the 18th Century, for the manufacture of glass is now a popular heritage attraction run by Dudley Council.

The main event will be an exhibition of Swedish glass by The Glass Factory, a recently founded museums and glass centre which promotes creative, innovative developments with glass. It takes glass back to its raw form and looks at the vast array of ways it can be worked to produce striking and diverse artworks, from 3D printing to modelling the form to glass cactii. The exhibition runs 23 August until 30 September.

Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise said:

This is a really packed programme of events, talks, exhibitions and fun for all the family.
The Red House Glass Cone is an iconic part of the Stourbridge skyline and it continues to play an important role in Stourbridge’s glassmaking industry today, not only in remembering our glassmaking heritage but also allowing a new generation of studio glass artists to flourish.
I hope that people put this four day event in their diaries and head to the Red House Glass Cone over the August bank holiday weekend.

There’s the chance for all ages to try a glass craft over the long weekend.

Older children and adults can make a piece of fused glass in Creative Glass: My House on Friday 23 August or Creative Glass:Our Place on Saturday 24 August. The sessions last one and a half hours, cost £12 per person and must be booked in advance on 01384 815571. Sessions run from 10.30am-12pm, 1pm-2.30pm & 3pm-4.30pm

Two glass painting sessions for youngsters aged 4+ run on the same days from 10.30am – 3.30pm and no booking is required. Sessions cost £3.50 per child.

There’s fine fittle and historic talks over the four day festival for grown-ups with a thirst for both knowledge and a pint. The talks kick off with a Black Country Bostin Fittle and Talk on Friday 23 August, from 5pm-6pm for the fittle and 6pm-7pm for the talk.

After some faggots and peas, a glass of wine or pint of beer or cuppa, Graham Worton, Keeper of Geology and Project Lead for the aspiring Black Country UNESCO Global Geopark will take to the stage to talk about the borough’s remarkable geology underneath and the role it played in the glassmaking industry. Places cost £15 per person and should be pre-booked on 01384 812750.

On Saturday 24 August from 2-3pm there’s less fittle and more finesse with a talk by Jayne Pilkington, the borough’s Senior Conservation Officer who will be delivering an archaeological, history and heritage talk on the glass industry in the borough. Tickets for the talk: Archaeology Post Medieval Urban Glass Industry of Stourbridge and Dudley at the Red House Glass Cone are free.

That evening there’s the best of both worlds with a talk and a side order of chips. The Mini Fish and Chip Supper runs from 5 -7pm and includes a glass of wine or pint of beer or tea and coffee. Tuck in from 5 – 6 and then tune in 6 -7 when Dr Kate Round talks about ‘Glassmaking – Our Place in the World’ which looks at why the glassmakers settled in Stourbridge and the role of women in the glass industry. Places cost £12 per person and should be pre-booked on 01384 812750.

It’s a day of refinement and culture on Sunday 25 August, kicking off at 11am with the popular Bonhams Valuation Day, appearing for the first time at the cone. It’s a chance to bring along treasured glass, ceramics, clocks, works of art, silver and pictures for the Bonhams expert to value. Bonhams will not be able to value jewellery at this event. It costs £2 per item, £5 for 3 items maximum and all proceeds will go to the Red House Glass Cone. No booking is necessary, just turn up. The valuation day will take place in the upstairs gallery which has restricted access and is unfortunately not suitable for wheelchair users. The valuation day runs until 3pm.

Malcolm Andrews will be talking about his life as a glassblower, alongside afternoon tea incorporating wine or beer and accompanied by the Mercian String Quartet. The talk, including a glassblowing demonstration will take place from 2pm to 3.30pm with afternoon tea available from 3pm to 4.30pm. Places cost £15 per person and should be pre-booked on 01384 812750.

The cone itself becomes the topic of conversation with The Life and Times of the Red House Glass Cone by Glass Specialist Charles Hajdamach. Charles will talk about the history of glass cones in Britain and the cone in particular, accompanied by a pint, a glass of wine and some Black Country ‘Bostin Fittle’. The fittle is served 5 – 6pm with the talk 6 – 7pm. Places cost £15 per person and should be pre-booked on 01384 812750.

Then it’s a day of family for the bank holiday (Monday 26 August) with a free fun day running from 10am-5pm. Children’s entertainer ‘Ron Popple’ will be entertaining the crowds with his Punch and Judy show and balloon modelling. Children can take part in trail around the cone, and there will be lots of craft activities for children and adults to make and take home. Things get musical from 1pm – 3pm when a jazz band strikes up on site.

Highlights of the wider festival which runs at various venues across the glass quarter include  the British Glass Biennale, featuring the latest contemporary work by 74 artists, plus workshops, masterclasses, live music and entertainment.

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