Qualified: UKZN glassblower recognised by elite british group

2009-12-16 00:00

A RIGOROUS three-year training programme and spending extended periods of time overseas has finally paid off for a University of KwaZulu-Natal glassblower who recently achieved his City and Guilds qualification from the British Society of Scientific Glassblowers (BSSG).

According to the university, Clarence Mortlock, who is based in the School of Chemistry at their Pietermaritzburg campus, joins only a handful of qualified glassblowers in the country, but is the only person in South Africa to hold scientific glassblowing qualifications from this elite British- based organisation.

The course encompassed practical and written assessments, including six examinations.

But Dr Murray Low, the deputy head at the School of Chemistry, said Mortlock was always well ahead of his game.

This is supported by the fact that he managed to finish his studies in two-and-a-half years, which, according to Low, is a tribute to his dedication and work ethic.

Scientific glassblowing is an art that dates back to the first century BC, but Mortlock said it is becoming a dwindling specialised skill both in the industry and university sectors, not only in South Africa, but the world over.

He first joined the university four years ago, though he had 14 years’ experience under his belt.

He was helped by the persistence of some university leaders who recognised his potential and fought for him to get the University Leadership and Equity Advancement Programme usually reserved for academic staff.

Through the mentorship he received from the in-house scientific blower Paul Forder, Mortlock was afforded the opportunity to attend a month’s training in Holland, which prepared him for the BSSG qualifications.

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