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Kim Atherton - glass blower


Kim Atherton, The Liquid Glass Centre
“I first got into glass at University”. To an outsider, this sounds like a strange statement but when she was studying Industrial Ceramics at Staffordshire University, Kim Atherton, 36, was so taken with her glass blowing module that she decided to ditch ceramics in favour of a BA Hons in glass design.
She followed this up with a more technical course so that she was equipped to professionally make all kinds of glass products. “I wanted to get more hands on than I had been at university and after this course I went straight into a job as a glassblower”.
Kim worked first at Isle of Wight Glass, then Will Shakespeare Glass and the prestigious Dartington Crystal before taking vocational trips to Venice, Sweden and Seattle, which proved to be transformational.
“I visited the famous
Pilchuck glass school in Seattle and realized that there wasn’t anything like it in the UK, or indeed Europe”. Kim returned to the UK with the dream of opening her own glass making school, in rural Britain; the Liquid Glass Centre was born. She took her idea to The Princes Youth Trust ten years ago and hasn’t looked back since.
“Without their help it wouldn’t have been possible”, explains Kim. “Starting capital is, of course, an absolutely crucial building block for anyone wanting to start out in business.” Lucky for Kim her idea was so strong, her bank agreed to match the Princes Trust loan which gave her a great start.
The Liquid Glass Centre, which Kim runs with her husband Tom (also a glass blower), is primarily a tuition centre for people to learn how to blow glass. Some are keen to pick up a new hobby, others go on to start their own businesses.

For Kim, although she loves creating her own pieces, which are sold in upscale galleries across the country, she says you can’t beat the feeling of watching students blow their first piece. “It’s magic – I really get off on that feeling. And I get to meet a diverse range of people, from 16 year-olds school kids to 90-year-old grannies”.
As Kim approaches her business’s tenth anniversary, which will be celebrated with a “huge party”, she says “tenacity and really hard work” are what are required to make a business work. It’s especially busy because she has grown her family, of three children, at the same time.

“Don’t expect to do a 9 to 5 because you won’t, it’s 24-7. It helps to do something you’re passionate about.”



Alison Taylor
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