ON October 22, members of Ross-on-Wye Vaga Probus were treated to a scorching presentation on glass blowing by Tony Osman.

Tony had previously worked in the production of scientific glass apparatus, and now ran a workshop in Cheltenham producing objets d’art.

Tony gave a succinct overview of the history of glass making, spanning back to Iraq and Syria circa 3500 BC.

Craftsmen had worked out that glass could be manufactured using three basic raw ingredients – sand, sodium carbonate and limestone.

High temperatures up to 1400 degrees centigrade need to be generated for glass fusion to take place.

Subsequent developments enabled various types of glass to be manufactured.

For example, the addition to the three basic ingredients of borax resulted in a strong glass which did not shatter under large temperature changes, and which we now all know as Pyrex.

The Venetians have been working with glass for centuries, and it was they who deduced that the addition of lead enabled fine crystal glass to be made.

At a more recent level, Pilkingtons developed the float glass process; running molten glass onto a bath of liquid tin enabled large sheets of glass to be produced, and which are a feature of all modern buildings.

With the aid of a blowtorch and showing considerable skill, Tony demonstrated the techniques for glass blowing, including glass fibre and endoscopes, and finished off by making a delightful small perfume bottle in under five minutes.

The art of glass blowing is, however, on the wane. With no apprenticeships available, fewer youngsters are embarking on a career in this area.

Vaga Probus is a men’s group that meets twice a month in Ross. Visitors are very welcome, please contact the secretary on 01989 218295 for details.