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The determined breaths of a glassblower are seldom included in the finished product of their labour, yet a series of newly commissioned glass sculptures by Manchester-based makers, Jahday Ford and Joseph Hillary, for their first major exhibition, Breathe, uses innovative digital design and traditional glassblowing techniques to visualise blown air in sculptural forms. The series of multi-coloured, rippling glass sculptures, displayed at Manchester Craft & Design Centre in the heart of the city’s Northern Quarter, between Thu 8 February – Sat 12 May, represent an innovative mix of modern and traditional technologies.

The early stages of glass blowing, balancing heat and shaping molten glass by blowing through a blowing iron, have been recorded by Hillary – by profession and education a digital designer - as sound files, taking the delicate sound of his friend and collaborator, Ford breathing through the iron itself. From the audio files he creates a visual representation using CAD software, before the illustrated sound waves are then turned into a wooden mould to begin the process of encapsulating an ambient sound in a physical object. The final stage in creating the finished glasswork goes right back to the start of the process, with Ford blowing hot, coloured glass through the mould Hillary has prepared to create a highly-detailed pattern as a feature of the finished, glass sculpture.

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