I joined in October 2002 after doing the same job in Birmingham University where I worked my way up from an apprentice to running the workshop.
Normally an apprenticeship might be two or three years, but in this field you need 8-10 years to have the skills to run your own workshop.
My role is to design, manufacture and repair scientific glassware for use in research and teaching labs. I’ll talk to the staff and if it’s basic glassware that’s required it’ll be ordered in, but for anything more bespoke I’ll design and make it myself. To the uninitiated, imagine the kind of stuff you see bubbling in the background in the old Frankenstein movies.
Sometimes people will have something very specific in mind, other times it’s just an idea and we’ll work on it together to design a workable model.
The Department of Chemistry is my main client but I do work across the University. I have done lots for Chemical Engineering and I have recently made a piece for Mechanical Engineering.
I’m a member of the British Society of Scientific Glassblowers and I’ve won its annual national competition three times.
Name one thing that makes you feel proud to work at the University of Bath
One of the main things that sets the Uni apart is being able to mix and work with people from all sorts of background and cultures, especially as our postgrad numbers increase - I even worked with someone who I later found out was a Nigerian Princess.
Who was your most influential teacher/educator, and why?
Roy Dackus, he taught me glassblowing at Birmingham. He was an excellent glassblower, he set very high standards and was very patient. He was very much a father figure to me, his views on life and the way he thought about things have stuck with me ever since.
What’s the one thing you know now that you wish you’d known when you were younger?
I was quite shy as a kid and looking back now I wish I’d had the courage of my convictions. I remember in school I would know the answer to the teacher’s question, I’d tell my mate then someone else would butt in and tell me I was wrong. So wouldn’t say anything - and then of course I was right.
What’s your favourite album?
‘Purple’ by Stone Temple Pilots, I love the raw energy of it and it takes me in a very happy point in time.
When are you happiest?
Walking a remote section of the South West Coast Path, particularly if there’s a pub serving real ale at the end of it! I am in the process of walking the whole thing - all 630 miles of it - and my wife and I have done more than half. We discovered the path when, due to traffic problems, the only way we could get to visit Polperro was by walking from nearby Talland Bay, it was magical.
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and why?
Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters. When I’ve seen him he seems like a nice guy who I wouldn’t mind sharing a few beers with. I’ve seen them play several times, just not quite close enough to introduce myself!
Which one superpower would you like to possess?
The commute in sometimes literally grinds my gears, so the ability to fly like Superman would be really handy.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Scientific Glassblowing is classified by The Heritage Crafts Association as an endangered craft with only 140-180 of us left practicing in the country, so passing the skills on to the next generation is dependent on people like me.
Tell us your favourite joke
One for the Chemists:
A Chemist goes into a bar and asks for a pint of Adenosine triphosphate
The barman says: “That’ll be 80p”
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