Glassblowing

The same system of furnaces and wooden tools that were first designed and employed as far back as 50BC are still used by Rothschild & Bickers today. The lengthy production process begins when the master gathers out molten glass at 1100°c on the end of the blowing iron. This is shaped and blown using classical skills and craftsmanship to create the required form. Every piece is then slowly annealed and ready to be moved into the cold workshop. It can take up to seven years to become a master glass blower, making and replicating multiple shapes without a mould.

Glass as a material

The majority of our products are made using a molten furnace glass that is free-blown to create our hollow shades. This glass is melted at 1100 °C from batch material and is carefully annealed over 24 hours before being cold worked and polished for fixtures and fittings. Solid glass can also be gathered from the furnace and used to produce smaller more decorative elements for chandeliers or sculptural installations. We tend to use scientific borosilicate glass when the design requires a precise form such as with our Empire lights or Spindle Pendants. This glass is produced in clear tubular lengths and then hand formed on a lathe using torches.

A glassblowing studio with a bench and glory hole
Mark Bickers stretching out a handblown glass form
Tools sparking on the outside of a handblown glass form

Polishing & finishing

Once the glass form is blown, it then has to be ground and polished to accommodate the correct lampholder and fitting. This is a gradual process using diamond encrusted saw blades and flat bed grinders. The finished product is then assembled and tested, ready for packing. Carefully boxing the work for shipment is taken seriously to ensure safe passage to the client. Rothschild & Bickers send work to destinations all around the globe and insure that the glass arrives intact and primed for installation.

Colour

We add colour to the glass using a chunk of solid concentrated rod which is cut to size depending on the scale of the object that is being made. The piece is then pre-heated to 500°C and attached to the end of the blowing iron. Once heated, a small bubble is blown and clear glass from the furnace is gathered over the top. The colour then spreads throughout the piece, as the shape is being blown. This method allows us to use a large tonal range of colours. Borosilicate glass is only available in clear though we offer an optic (ribbed) or frosted finish.

Quality & Detail

Attention to detail is at the heart of Rothschild & Bickers from the handblown shades to the individual components which make up each light. The quality of every element is exceptional; from delicately woven flexes and trimmings to hand spun metal canopies and ceiling roses. There are a wealth of options available including plated finishes and glass colours giving the customer a genuinely bespoke design experience.

Made in the UK

We strive as much as possible to make all the elements for our lighting in the UK. Not only do we craft our glass shades but we buy the majority of our metal parts and flex from British manufacturers. The finished product can encompass a large collection of processes from laser cutting to plating, all of which are sourced locally. All of our suppliers are masters in their own field and work with us to create unique products for our bespoke orders.

Assembly workshop showing glass pendant lights being put together