The Aqua Glass shop in Bath's Abbey Churchyard is a sparkling cave of wonders, which is full of bespoke and beautiful fused and stained glass works of art. It also showcases some of the marvels of the Aqua Glass Blowing Workshop, which is its sister site a the heart of the Artisan Walcot Street. The shop space is a marvellous mix of showroom and gallery and is literally dazzling to the eyes. After reading about this side of Aqua Glass, please click on the link below to discover the Glass Blowing part of this proudly homegrown Bath business.
In the words of glassmaker and master craftsman Themis Mikellides, "The only limit to what we do here is imagination". I met this jovial glass magician today, and he showed me around the bright and airy shop, which is accessible from both the centre of Cheap Street, and the corner of Bath Abbey Churchyard. The imaginations of his staff are clearly boundless though, because it is a genuine joy to experience the huge variety of colours, swirls and shapes that make up the glass creations in the shop. When seeking out the premises, just head for the blue and white spun roundels that make up the door frame. You can't miss them.
Blue and white glass roundels that make up the front door of the shop, as accessed from Bath Abbey Churchyard. Each individual piece is unique and finished by hand, as is every creation of Aqua Glass..
One of the latest and most popular ventures of Bath Aqua Glass is their range of 'Aura' Jewellery. These handmade, kiln-fused glass masterpieces are sparkling and unique, and in a range of vibrant colours. Originally formed in large panels, each piece is taken and formed uniquely, in order to create something with a truly original design. In Themis' words, 'this glass could last for thousands of years. We are making the archaeology of the future'. He showed me that every piece of glass is marked with 'Bath' and the year of its creation, and I can well imagine these treasures being passed down through generations. See for yourself:
Treasure Two- Architectural and Ornamental Stained Glass
This shop (and basement workshop), is the hub of Stained Glass production at Bath Aqua Glass. Commissions are undertaken for ornamental gifts and architectural stained glass panels, all cared for by Themis and his team. During my visit, I was fascinated to watch an apprentice cutting green glass pieces, ready to be set into a Celtic Cross design. I loved seeing the raw materials taking shape, next to the displayed, finished works. I saw the entire creative process of one particular Stained Glass commission, illustrated on a leaflet (and realised on the wall of the workshop), and it made me appreciate the skill and time that must go into the creation of these commissions.
Textured green glass pieces, being cut to size with a template to make Celtic Cross stained glass panels.
Themis proudly told me that there are two important and historical ties to the glass that is produced in Bath by Aqua Glass. The first is the distinctive 'Aqua' Blue blown glass receptacles with Roman trails, originally said to represent health and eternity. Stunning reproductions, these pieces feature the spiralled 'trails' on their necks, created both for grip and for artistry. Having seen and picked one up today, I can appreciate the joy of both.
Delicate trails, so characteristic of Roman glass.
Ever heard of the phrase 'Daylight Robbery'? It was actually derived from a controversial Window Tax in England during Georgian times, when British subjects were taxed by the number of windows that their properties held. Likewise, glass blowers were charged and taxed for the weight of each and every pane of glass that they made. Accordingly, the glass blowers filled their creations with air, in order to make the glass lighter and cut their expenditure. The Georgian twisted glass stem was born, as the following photograph demonstrates.
An example of a 'twisted stem' glass, created during Georgian times in Bath. Both beautiful and practical.
As well as a showroom, this shop is a teaching space. Themis offers bespoke 1:1 and small group tuition to anybody who wants to learn the joys of stained glass making. I was lucky enough to be shown the basement workshop where tuition takes place and some of the traditional tools used during the creative process. Close to the workshop space is the fused glass kiln, and I witnessed some of the Aura Jewellery begin its transformation into necklaces and earrings, surrounded by the tools that make this possible.
The heart of stained glass making- the basement workshop.
Today is the 15th November, and Bath is gearing up for its World Famous Christmas Market. One of the most popular stalls (or chalets), will certainly be Bath Aqua Glass, and the shop is proudly displaying its wares. The Walcot workshop create multi- coloured Christmas tree baubles, and I saw a fabulous display of these at the corner of the shop. Hanging from a frame of fused bicycle wheels, they looked extremely festive.