How to blow your own artwork

ALAN Ussher's glassblowing studio in South Lismore has the look and feel of a laboratory.

All around is an array of gas burners, kilns and industrial tools employed to shape the tubes of Pyrex he uses to create his intricate works.

Known as lampworking, this style of glass work was perfected in the late 1800s for the production of lamps and scientific equipment.

It is thought the earliest verifiable object made of lampworked glass is a collection of beads dating from the fifth century BC.

"This is small scale style of working and it is an affordable operation," Ussher said.


He takes tubes of Pyrex and manipulates them into shapes, drawing colour and finer shapes into the objects as they form.

It's all done in the blast of flame from the custom made gas burners that fire a variety of flames of different intensities to shape the glass.

Using this technique he is able to create and join complex shapes into functional objects and works of art.

"It is quite a technical process but it is very versatile," he said.

"As well as works of art, I can make hot and cold drink containers and kitchenware such as tea pots and wine glasses."

Ussher also repairs and builds complex scientific apparatus.

He occasionally does repair work for the laboratories at Southern Cross University.

"I have also worked with inventors making vessels for specific experiments they were running," he said.

Ussher was recently part of the 10th Annual Flame on Glass Exhibition at Kirra Galleries in Melbourne.

The show focused exclusively of the work of lampworkers and Ussher created a collection of sci-fi inspired objects.


He says he has always been interested in art and music.

"I had worked in a number of mediums but this is the one that stuck," he said

"I have always liked a challenge and this is certainly is a challenging medium.

"I like the versatility and the colour is very attractive.

"I like that it is different and not everyone is doing it, so it's easy to stand out in the crowd."

Ussher's Gallery is open to the public, and he sells his work at the monthly Lismore Makers Market. He also offers classes in lampworking at his studio. The cost is $50 an hour per person and students get personalised tuition in his fully equipped studio.

  • Alan Ussher Glass blowing: 14 Foleys Road, South Lismore. Ph: 0439468983 or visit

Topics:  artist profile classes

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