Training | 11-02-2023

Scottish glass studio receives The Macallan artisan apprenticeship fund

Glasstorm hot glass studio in the Scottish Highlands is one of four recipients of an Artisan Apprenticeship Fund from master whisky producer The Macallan.

The funding will enable the Tain-based glassworks to recruit and train a new, full-time apprentice in their luxury glass business.

Under the guidance of Glasstorm Director, Brodie Nairn, and studio hot shop manager, Ronnie Nelson, the apprentice will be trained in all elements of bespoke glass work, from maintenance and use of key equipment to hand-eye coordination, mould production, glass refinement and artistry.

After completing the two-year apprenticeship, the trainee will gain the practical skills, experience and confidence required to work as a glass blowing assistant, paving the way to a career as an early entry glassblower. The apprentice could also work towards a formal qualification, with guidance and support from Skills Development Scotland.

Glasstorm, which was established in 2005, has been allocated a £50,000 portion of £260,000 funding from The Macallan Artisan Apprenticeship Fund.

Brodie Nairn commented, “Based in the Highlands of Scotland, we find it impossible to bring glassblowers with experience into our business. To be able to give the time and energy to an apprentice programme where a local person can be brought on to learn the age-old craft of hot glassblowing is so exciting, and we now have the studio infrastructure to support and train internally.

“Glassblowing is a craft that requires patience, good teaching, and support from the beginning. It takes many years to get even the basics done well. Studios like ours would traditionally employ from specialist training centres and have an assistant stay for a year before they move on to gain experience elsewhere and travel. The failings of this are that no-one embeds themselves into the community or stays longer, making a big gap in the skill sets available to the studio and limiting investment in time for individuals that ultimately move on within a year. With the creation of our apprenticeship position, we’re proud to see a small step towards what we hope will be wider progress.”

The Artisan Apprenticeship Fund is delivered through The Macallan Artisan Collective, a creative forum for likeminded master makers to network, exchange ideas, innovate and collaborate via live gatherings and digital events. Established in 2021, it champions and celebrates the artisans, their philosophies, knowledge and skills, as well as the critical role they play in local and global economies.

In the same year, The Macallan created the Artisan Apprenticeship Fund in recognition of the need to preserve and safeguard legacy crafts, trades, skills, and values to support employment for generations to come.

Proceeds for the fund have been generated primarily through the auction of The Reach 81 Years Old single malt, the oldest whisky ever released in the history of The Macallan.

A one-of-a-kind special edition of this release, crafted from a single, sherry-seasoned oak cask, was sold at Sotheby’s London in October 2022. The auction lot featured an exclusive bottle of The Macallan The Reach, encased in a display cabinet lined in red leather.

Elizabeth McMillan, Head of Insight & Sustainability at The Macallan, stated: “At The Macallan, we thrive as a local brand with a global presence because of the remarkable communities and networks with whom we enjoy strong interdependent relationships built on shared value creation. Glasstorm shares our dedication to craftsmanship and quality, and we are proud to play a part in helping to train and guide the next generation of artisans within this established business.”

For further information about The Macallan Artisan Collective and The Macallan Artisan Apprenticeship Fund, visit The Macallan Positive Society and Community Initiatives.

Further information about Glasstorm is available via the website.

Image: The creation of a glass decanter at Glasstorm. Photo: Christina Kernohan.

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