A Day in the Life of a Glazier in Sunderland

We use glass every single day, whether it is used to enjoy a glass of juice or to look out of the window to check the weather, but do we know where it comes from and how it’s made? At the National Glass Centre in Sunderland you can learn more about glass in a fun way (honest!)

Glass-making was established in Sunderland in 674AD after French glaziers (people who make things from glass) brought the skill to Wearmouth, an area which a large community of monasteries. Sunderland’s National Glass Centre was opened in 1998 to help with the local production and education of cotemporary glass. Here is a selection of the glass objects which are made there.


Start your trip to the glass centre with a walk across the glass roof if you dare! After all it isn’t every day you get to walk across a roof. When you enter the centre, which is also part of the University of Sunderland, you can look up and see who else was brave enough to take the walk of faith over the glass!

Did you know that when we look at something the image it produces is upside down and that it is our brain that turns it around so that we can see it the right way up?  You can learn loads more facts like this if you spend a little time in the Kaleidoscope Gallery where there are lots of activities for children and adults alike.

Once you have learned almost all there is to know about glass, take a walk through the workshops of some the glass artists while they are at work. Sunderland Glass Centre has links with Sunderland University and many of the people who use these workshops are learning more about the production of contemporary glass. The live glass blowing demonstrations are brilliant as you get to watch art being made before your very eyes!

Every day at 12 noon and 3pm live glass blowing demonstrations take place and you can watch as the glass artists turn raw materials in to beautiful contemporary glass products.


After the glass is heated and shaped it is blown and put into a mould to prepare it for s special oven where it is left over night so that it is ready to be sold.

Once you have watched the demonstrations you can finish your day off with a look around the shops where, alongside stunning pieces of contemporary glass artwork, you will find marbles in almost all shapes and sizes.


The National Glass Centre is open every day except 25 & 26 December and 1 January. Closed at 4pm on 24 December and 31 December.

Words and Photographs by Francesca Dent

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