The future of glass-making – Arts University Plymouth invests in electric furnace
A new cutting-edge electrical furnace has been installed in Arts University Plymouth’s hot glass studios, replacing the previous gas furnace, used frequently by craft, art and research students in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes across the arts university.
This new furnace, the first of its kind in an educational institution in the UK, will reduce the annual energy consumption of the renowned hot glass studios by up to 80% in comparison to previous hot-glass blowing methods. It is forecasted to reduce the carbon footprint from hot glass at Arts University Plymouth by over 39 tonnes a year.
The furnace in situ at Arts University Plymouth's hot glass studio
The state-of-the-art electrical furnace is set to revolutionise the glass industry, making it much more affordable for graduates and artisan glass blowers to invest in the setup of their own studios should they choose to continue to develop studio-scale glass and practise the art form as an independent designer or artisan.
Gayle Matthias, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Craft & Material Practices at Arts University Plymouth, said: “The purchase of this equipment illustrates Arts University Plymouth’s commitment to sustainable hot glass practice going forward. The efficiencies in terms of energy usage and glassblowing practice will greatly be improved by the addition of this state of the art equipment, it makes studio glass practice a more viable option for our graduates and models sustainable hot glass practice.”
Fab Lab Principal Technician Ian Hankey uses the new furnace
Ian Hankey, Fab Lab Principal Technician and part-time technical demonstrator for hot glass, said: “This furnace is fantastic. It's the most efficient glass furnace I have worked with by far and also the best designed when considering ease of gathering and accessibility. I began my career as an apprentice on the maintenance and installation of glass furnaces in 1981. The new range of equipment from Interpower Induction represents the most significant, exciting and innovative change I have seen since then.”
Craft & Material Practices student Nathan Soper said: “The new furnace is really good, a game changer. So many studios are shutting down because of gas bills. This furnace is definitely the future of glass.”
BA (Hons) Craft & Material Practices student Nathan Soper uses the furnace
Arts University Plymouth has actively embraced sustainable practices throughout its city-centre campuses, from reducing food waste and increasing recycling to reducing its carbon footprint through the use of electric vehicles and LED lighting, as well as switching to a carbon-neutral tariff.
BA (Hons) Craft & Material Practices student Zeynep Korun uses the hot glass facilities
An enormous amount of work has been put into the estates and facilities within Arts University Plymouth, with opportunities for staff and students to get involved in improving sustainability on campus and within the wider community. In 2018 the university’s Craft, Design and Fabrication workshop was awarded BREEAM Excellent status (the world's longest established method of assessing, rating, and certifying the sustainability of buildings), something that only 4% of new builds in the UK achieve.