by Ray Priem Creators of unique bespoke glassware Made with Xara  by 50 Plus Surfers A Case Study of Ray Priem, Glass Designer... Ray Priem runs his own glassware company. Holding a certificate in glassblowing from the British Society of Scientific Glassblowers, he has years of experience of working with glass to his bespoke commissions and giftware creations. I learnt the art of glassblowing from working in my father’s glass business for three years before taking time out to travel around Europe. Once I was living back in the UK, I managed glass product quality control for an industrial glass making company. It was there that I gained my formal glassblowing qualification. However, I gained most enjoyment from experimenting with glass creations in my own spare time and that is what led to my current career path in the creative side of glass blowing. Initially, I sold my designs at craft fairs and now I sell them through lighting and craft shops, a gallery and through commissions via the internet/word of mouth. I use several glass working techniques, depending on the project but specialise in lampworking. Lampworking uses a gas fuelled torch to melt rods and tubes of clear and coloured glass. Once in a molten state, the glass is formed by blowing and shaping with a variety of tools and hand movements (hand-forming). This technique allows me to produce glass models in my own unique stylised form. Other techniques used in my designs include kiln forming and sand-blast engraving. One of the most enjoyable parts of being a glass designer includes interacting with the clients, especially in the concept, design and delivery of high-end one-off pieces. Prestigious commissions I have designed include the Kodak BAFTA ‘swan’ awards for high-fliers within the film industry and the Anne Frank award for individuals who have made a difference to society. I also relish the variety of my current role. Running my own business allows me to choose what sort of work I take on. I have a core business of supplying glass diffusers to a New Zealand lighting company and supplement this with glassware restoration, teaching bead-making to adults at weekends and one-off commissions mainly for businesses. Another benefit of working for myself means that I get to deal with people from different social and cultural backgrounds from across the globe. The breadth of my business commissions ensures that my artistic talents are always being stretched, enabling me to try different techniques of glass working to achieve ultimate customer satisfaction. The variety of my commissions also allows me to work in conjunction with other glass blowers in order to achieve the exact desired effect for my clients. One of the most challenging parts of the role involves managing the finances. The next conquest will be to engage in an electronic marketing drive to increase my profile and ultimately my business. Produced by Samantha Brown, University of the West of England Date: April 2009 Photos Ruth Holroyd, published Oct, 2011