Can't find the glasses you want? Then blow your own

In the past 40 years, the French hill-top village of Biot - just inland from Antibes - has become the focus for a revival of the Provencal craft of hand-blown glassware.

It began in July 1956, when Eloi Monod had the idea of copying in glass the traditional shapes and objects that local potters had been making since Roman times. With that in mind, he founded the Verrerie de Biot with two other employees. Drawing inspiration from Venetian glassware as well as the local potters, they worked on creating the look that has become Biot's trademark, "verre bulle", with bubbles of gas imprisoned between two layers of coloured glass.

During the French school holidays, the Verrerie de Biot runs one-week evening classes in the art of glass-making, open to anyone over the age of 16 who wants to return from holiday with something longer-lasting than a suntan. It's a practical course, with the emphasis on showing rather than telling participants what to do, so even rudimentary French is enough for anyone who wants to take part.

Students work in small groups, two or three people to every master glass- blower, learning the fundamentals: taking the molten glass - a mixture of mainly sand, potash and soda at 1100 degrees centigrade - and carefully working the honey-like mixture at the end of a long hollow tube into the basic form, then shaping it and adding the finishing details.

The trademark bubbles are produced by dipping one piece of molten glass, cooled slightly in water, into bicarbonate of soda, and then wrapping a second layer of glass round that. The heat vapourises the bicarbonate, leaving bubbles trapped between the two layers. The colour is produced by adding metal oxides to the molten glass; cobalt oxide, for instance, makes a clear blue. It is, of course, a great deal more difficult than it sounds. To become a master glass-blower involves a long training. The apprentices at Biot start around the age of 16, and follow a practical and thorough course that takes them up through seven grades. The whole process takes about 8 to 10 years.

The summer students have considerably less time than this for their training. Nevertheless, at the end of the week, participants take home a diploma, a T-shirt and, most importantly, a simple hand-blown goblet that they have made themselves (possibly with a bit of help from the teacher, but other people don't need to know that).

This goblet could well help to cure one perennial summer problem: the rose that tasted delicious in the south of France but comes over all ordinary back home. Poured into an amethyst or rose-quartz-tinted beaker that you made yourself in Biot, the wine will look so spectacularly sunny that your tastebuds will be tricked into liking it again. And it works just as well on supermarket plonk.

The course costs l,500f and runs every week during the French school holidays. For more information, write to La Verrerie de Biot, Chemin des Combes, 06410 Biot, France; call 00 33 93650300 or fax on 00 33 93650056. Several people there speak English. Because the class sizes are so small, it is essential to book in advance.

Catalogues and order forms are available from the same address.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

    Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

    £24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

    Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there