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Meet Rory Leadbetter

Posted 26.06.2024
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Rory Leadbetter is part of a chain of craftspeople who are keeping glassblowing alive in Ireland today. Watching a skilled craftsperson blowing glass, it looks fluid and natural. But this ease is the result of years of training in this ancient craft. Techniques handed down through generations of makers and perfected over time.

Rory works in his family’s business, Jerpoint Glass. They produce distinctive colourful glassware for the home, which is inspired by the beautiful Kilkenny landscape. He trained in his craft with his father Keith, and is guided in design aesthetics by his mother Kathleen. The spirit of collaboration is strong as Rory explains “glasswork is teamwork, we all have our strengths”.felong dream of working as a full-time artist. She is delighted with her decision and is now busy doing what she loves.

We start our day by emptying the kiln just before 7. It takes an hour to get up to temperature. We light the reheating holes at 8am and commence the days production around 8:15. We will then make whatever is on order or short of stock. We take a 30 minute break around 1pm and then work through till 4 pm when we allow the kiln to start its cooling ramp and turn the furnace up to melting temperature to meltdown raw materials for the following day.

If you’re starting from scratch Do any courses you can find (NCAD Dublin or Grennan Craft school Thomastown) pertaining to the craft you are interested in. You can’t beat learning on the job though. Find a crafter who could use a hand. Crafters are invariably quite small so you may have to begin on an internship basis until your skills reach a level where it’s economically viable for them to pay you a wage.

Rory Leadbetter

Jerpoint Glass

Handles are my speciality; you need to be quick but controlled. There is a rhythm with hot glass. This process still amazes me.

We recently welcomed Minhi England @m.i.n.h.i and John ‘Sleepy’ Moran John Sleepy Moran to Jerpoint Glass to do some demonstrations. Their skills were amazing to witness. I’m always impressed as well by the other two Glass makers here at Jerpoint Glass. Johnny and James have made it look easy day in day out for decades. Aside from the makers though, I’m still in awe at how my parents managed to keep the family business going through 2 recessions and lots of other ups and downs over the last 45 years.

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By Rory Leadbetter

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