Beth Howard, 17, is one of four apprentices at Bath Aqua Glass. Bath Aqua Glass is one of the last free-blown glass studios in the UK and is located in the heart of Bath- it has a studio in Walcot Street and a stained glass workshop at its shop by Bath Abbey. Studying as an apprenticeship with the business is a unique experience. Here, Beth shares her story for National Apprenticeship Week.
I studied for a UAL Level 3 diploma in art and design at Bath College for a year and a half, gaining skills in different mediums and techniques. However, I was struggling to decide on a university course and find something that would guarantee a career at the end. Apprenticeships had always been an option, but finding an apprenticeship in the creative field seemed impossible. Through the Bath College apprenticeships board, I noticed that Bath Aqua Glass were looking for a new stained glass apprentice and I jumped at the opportunity.
Being an apprentice at Bath Aqua Glass is extremely rewarding and full of different opportunities that push and challenge you as an individual. I’m learning the ancient skills of stained glass on the job, gaining first-hand experience of all the elements – such as cutting, leading, glass painting, fusing and commissions. Having young people lead the way as the next generation of glass makers (to carry on the British glass industry) is very important to me. It’s about keeping ancient arts and crafts alive for years to come. I am passionate about apprenticeships and how important it is for young people to earn and learn at the same time.
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Before working at Bath Aqua Glass I had never cut or used any stained glass. I was thrilled to get the opportunity four months down the line to take part in a stained glass mirror commission and a big commission for the Exeter Life Awards, creating 25 individual trophies. I am mad about colour and how textures are layered. Having the hand-blown glass to use is beautiful and I enjoy creating well-made pieces.
Learning from scratch, I have found elements of my apprenticeship that have pushed me out of my comfort zone artistically and technically. As someone who struggles with maths, I have overcome aspects that have worried me with technical drawings and measurements. I feel that Bath Aqua Glass as a company is one that supports and encourages young people to showcase their talents. They give you the tools, experience and opportunities to become knowledgeable and enriched glass makers once you have completed your apprenticeship.
I chose this apprenticeship because I felt that Bath Aqua Glass would be the right place for me. I felt that I would fit in well with the diverse team and it would be the ideal place for me to grown creatively. My aim is to become as accomplished as the official stained glass artists, to be given commissions and to produce elegant pieces of art – which will be treasured for years to come.
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