Waikato glassblower wins big

Glassblowing is more than just a job to Steve Newcombe, it’s his livelihood

JENNA LYNCH
Last updated 11:22 30/11/2012
A DYING ART?: Steve Newcombe at work. He is concerned about the future of the profession as there are only two trainees in his field in Australasia.
CHRIS HILLOCK

A DYING ART?: Steve Newcombe at work. He is concerned about the future of the profession as there are only two trainees in his field in Australasia.

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: Scientific Glassblower Steve Newcombe shows off his trophy winning glass bells.
CHRIS HILLOCK
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: Scientific Glassblower Steve Newcombe shows off his trophy winning glass bells.

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Mr Newcombe has just taken away three of the four awards on offer at the 10th biannual scientific glassblowing symposium in Dunedin, taking his award count up to 11.

He produced both the best scientific piece with a rack and pinions piece and the best artistic piece with an impressive set of chiming mechanical bells complete with moving cogs, along with delivering the best workshop to fellow glassblowers at the symposium last week.

But aside from winning awards, Mr Newcombe spends his days at the Glassblowing workshop at Waikato University where he is focussing on creating new vacuum lines for the Universitys Radio carbon dating unit.  

Although it is his job to blow glass for scentific purposes, it is more than that. 

"Glassblowing is a thing I’m passionate about. It’s my hobby so I’m here in the evenings too. It beat’s working for a living," he said.

Mr Newcombe started his glassblowing career as an artist, but after years of training has fine-tuned his skills in scientific glassblowing and has since produced artificial mouth’s, distillation instruments and even instruments to view diabetic blood samples. 

And if you think the creative talent ends there, you are wrong. Mr Newcombe has created everything from life size lillies to charicatures of his colleagues from glass. 

"I like the challenge of coming up with technical and innovative ideas," he said. 

But although he loves his trade, Mr Newcombe expressed concern for the future of his profession as he only knew of two trainees in his field in Australasia. 

"I think I was the last trainee in the country and I finished a long time ago," he said.

"It takes a five year apprenticeship to become a scientific glassblower, but you never stop learning."

However Mr Newcombe may need look no further for his successor than his granddaughter, who shares his love for glassblowing.

"She loves coming up here. She comes in... and she makes little glass hearts out of coloured glass."

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- Waikato Times

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