Bubble-blowing competition at Langham Glass will help Fakenham fire appeal

Thomas Smith blowing a glass bubble at the Langham Glass open day. Picture: Ian Burt Thomas Smith blowing a glass bubble at the Langham Glass open day. Picture: Ian Burt

Saturday, June 21, 2014
5:03 PM

A competition to blow bubbles from hot molten glass helped to inflate the fundraising total as a Norfolk glass-making firm held a charitable open day this weekend.

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Langham Glass in Fakenham threw open its doors to visitors to raise money for two good causes, raising £371.50 to be split between The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House and the EDP and Fakenham and Wells Times’ joint Let’s Fight for Fakenham campaign, which will support victims of the devastating fire which hit the town’s Market Place last month

The event included glass-making demonstrations, with expert craftsmen showing how they make the ornate decorative figures which have become the company’s trademark.

There were also activities and games, including a challenge to blow the biggest glass bubble, with children queuing to try forming the delicate structures. The eventual winner was 10ft long.

Langham Glass was established at Langham in 1979 by master glassmaker Paul Miller, but the company has been based on Greenway Lane in Fakenham for the last 17 months.

As part of the town’s business community, the family firm was keen to show its support for the shops and homes which were destroyed in the fire which ripped through the Original Factory Shop in the former Aldiss department store building on May 25.

Helen Miller, who handles the marketing at Langham Glass, said: “We are a proper family business, and it is nice being part of the town now.

“Originally, when we first planned this six weeks ago, we were going to do the open day for the Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House, but after the fire happened, we decided that we were going to split the funds.

“We obviously want to put something back into Fakenham and I think it is quite sad what has happened.

“Being a family business and knowing there are families who have lost their homes and other local companies have been affected, we knew we had to do something to help.

“We are really pleased with the amount of people who supported us over the weekend.”

The raw material used by Langham Glass is a mixture of 10 different ingredients – including silica sand, limestone, potash and barium – to assist the melting process, and give a high quality clear final product.

The batch is melted in ceramic-lined furnaces to 1140ºC at which point it reaches a constituency similar to golden syrup.

The tool used for glass-blowing is a long, hollow stainless steel rod with a mouthpiece on one end. Once the right amount of glass from the furnace has been gathered onto the end of the gathering iron, the glass-maker will roll it into the basic shape before blowing into the iron, sealing the with his thumb. The air expands with the heat, forcing a bubble into the glass.

Glassmaker Ashley Twite explained: “It’s quite easy to blow the bubble. With the heat it expands very easily, but it cools very quickly and within 10 seconds it is solid. Within 20 seconds you can touch it.”

The company has seven full-time glass-makers and has engraving facilities on site as well. It makes awards and decanters for clients in countries including Cuba and Spain.

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