Watch Glass Blowing

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Innovation is a mystifying thing! What sort of mind thinks they will shape and bake a lump of clay into a pot after digging it from the ground? And who would get an oven-ready duck and think to pronounce that what it needs to set it off is an orange sauce? And who takes glass, melts it and sticks it on a giant metal straw and starts blowing?

Clearly we are from a species of very odd-minded individuals, especially when you consider how many initial attempts, certainly at cookery, pottery and glass-blowing must have been entirely disastrous. So what inspires people come up with these ideas and more to the point, what encourages them to keep going until they enjoy a measure of success?


Of course, the path of innovation is littered with many more heroic failures then there are successes. But even so – glass-blowing! You would have had to be seriously deranged to have come up with and developed that as an artform!


History suggests that those ‘seriously deranged’ people were the Phoenicians, who took up residence on the Maltese isles in pre-historic times, before the Romans had even come up with a rudimentary design for a siege tower let alone started invading other nations.


These clever folk, who arrived from the land now known as Lebanon, certainly left their mark on Maltese life not least its population, as it is estimated that a third of Maltese people have DNA that can be directly linked to this ancient race.


But procreation was not their only strong suit. The Phoenicians also brought other things to Malta like the dghajsa - water taxi – which is thought to have evolved from an early Phoenician design and the Maltese language, which retains traces of tongues spoken by those early settlers. And then there’s glassblowing, which although thought to be a recently added craft pursuit on the island can be traced back here to Phoenician times.


The produce from the hugely talented craftspeople of today is typically Maltese in design and uses strong Mediterranean colours. The lengthy process starts by melting down multi-coloured beads, which are then blobbed onto a metal tube and blown into a shape.


Clear or different coloured glass can be placed around or alongside the original piece before being further shaped and designed. The technique produces some stunning objects that make ideal gifts or souvenirs.


The designs of the articles produced have been updated so pieces with a modern twist sit alongside the traditional. Among the favourite items to buy include vases, bowls, statues, perfume bottles, jewellery and individual beads.


It is possible to visit some of the glass-blowing workshops on the island to see objects being created from scratch. The beauty of this is that you can commission a piece to your chosen design and colour scheme and then watch it take shape before your eyes – or have it personalised with your name or initials.


Glass blowers can be seen in full swing at the Craft Village in Ta’ Qali. This is easy to find as it’s right next to the National Stadium close to Attard. If you want to view or buy handblown glass then you’ll struggle to find anywhere to beat the Mdina Glass shop in the city of the same name. It's on the left just after you walk through the main gate of the quaint and historic former capital. 

Further Information

Address: Crafts Village, Ta Qali
Phone: +356 2141 5786

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