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University launches Apprenticeship in Stained Glass to save endangered craft

27 Nov 2023 2 minute read
Stained Glass Design. Image: Trinity Saint David

Stephen Price

A new stained glass apprenticeship has been launched at University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) after research showed a worrying decline in the traditional craft.

This year, the Heritage Craft Association put the craft of making and restoring traditional, large-scale stained-glass windows on the Endangered Craft Red List.

With a diminishing market of new commissions and an ageing demographic of practitioners, combined with increasing costs and decreasing opportunities for formal training, there are very real concerns among practitioners about the craft’s future.

Design and history

Addressing this problem, Swansea College of Art at UWTSD, the British Society of Master Glass Painters, the Worshipful Company of Glaziers, and industry  professionals have worked together to try to rectify the issue.

Collectively, they have developed a brand new, government-funded Stained Glass Craftsperson Apprenticeship with training provided by UWTSD and final assessment by the Institute of Conservation (ICON). 

Apprentices will study at UWTSD in blocks over three years, undertaking tuition in a comprehensive range of stained-glass craft techniques.

Essential Health & Safety and COSHH will be built into the programme, alongside a range of decorative processes including glass painting, staining, enamelling, acid etching, sandblasting, and French embossing. 

Apprentices will be introduced to design, heraldry, lettering, and the history of stained glass to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the craft.

Next generation of craftspeople

Preparations are underway to welcome the first cohort of new apprentices in November 2023. Apprentices will be based in UWTSD’s ALEX Building, the original home of the stained-glass department, where they’ll have access to high quality glass workshops and facilities.

Christian Ryan, Stained Glass Apprenticeship Liaison Officer at UWTSD said: “This programme is a significant development in the continuation of stained-glass training and is a wonderful opportunity to instruct the next generation of craftspeople.”

He added: “With the hard work and perseverance of all involved, and the support of the stained-glass community, we hope that soon, stained glass can be removed from the Endangered Craft Red List and that the specialist knowledge and skills continue to be passed on in future.”

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Sarah Good
Sarah Good
7 months ago

That’s great and all, but is there still a need for this skill? If a … glass stainer … loses their job, is there a good market for glass staining that would enable them to find work in their qualified field elsewhere? There is probably a reason why this job is endangered. We should not trap some youngster into spending their time on learning an increasingly obsolete skill set because some old people like old things to not change. Get the last fw experts to write a book on it, make some videos about it, file them for posterity and… Read more »

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
7 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

You are a positive soul!
There is a long and proud tradition of stained glass design at UWTSD. In its former life as Swansea College of Art, it was world famous and attracted students far and wide.
Do you want to live in a world without art?
Presumably you see no merit in teaching any form of art unless there is proof beyond any shadow of a doubt that there is guaranteed employment afterwards.
Apply that criterion and the universities will be empty….

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