The art of scientific glassblowing

Gayle Price, our talented glassblower, has been interviewed by the Wellcome Collection about the art of glassblowing and ways in which art and science connect in interesting ways.

At Leicester, Gayle covers all aspects of scientific glassblowing, including hot and cold glass working. Gayle joined the University in 2012, having previously trained with William McCormack at Glasgow University and having helped to reconstruct the glassblowing facility at the University of Hull after a disastrous flood in 2007.

The Glass Workshop at Leicester is fully equipped for the production of specialised glassware, to satisfy the needs of research groups and teaching laboratories in many departments around the University of Leicester. Hospitals, commercial companies and individuals, outside of the University also use her skills.

Working mainly for the Department of Chemistry, but also helping in Physics and Medicine, Gayle makes a mixture of standard and bespoke glass instruments to order, as well as fixing broken glassware from the teaching labs. Glass is an excellent material for scientific equipment: it’s durable, transparent, non-reactive, and easy to sterilise in the oven.

Gayle also collaborates with artists, recently working with a ceramicist and a jewellery designer on two projects for British Science Week. One resulted in delicate fungi-like structures made from white porcelain and clear glass, the other a large sculpture of reindeer lichen, rendered in green and clear glass.

“The intersections between art and science are undeniable,” she says. “Both are about discovery, exploring the unknown, making something new. As a scientific glassblower, I like the freedom to be both a craftsperson and an engineer.”

Watch a feature about Gayle and glassblowing on the BBC’s One Show below: