Waikato glassblower takes awards by storm

Last week University of Waikato glassblower Steve Newcombe won three out of the four awards on offer at the 10th Biannual Scientific Glassblowing Symposium in Dunedin.

It soon became the running joke between delegates that if only he had entered the fourth category, he could have won that too.

The prizes, which bring Steve's award count over the years to 11, were awarded for best scientific piece, best artistic piece and best workshop.

The scientific piece demonstrated a new technique of Steve's called 'rack and pinions', while the artistic piece was a set of bells, with cogs and chimes which formed an impressive moving piece of art.

"I was most blown away at my winning of the scientific piece, as the standard of entries was very high," says Steve.

Along with his glass masterpieces, his workshops have also created a buzz in the world of glassblowers.  Steve presented on the use of 'glues in the glassblowers workshop' and 'glass rack and pinions'.

Both workshops covered new and innovative techniques not seen before in the industry.

He has already been contacted by a North Island polytechnic to repeat his workshop for students and the British Society of Glassblowing, who would like to publish his findings in their journal.

At Waikato University Steve works an advanced technical officer in the Faculty of Science & Engineering's Glassblowing Workshop. Much of his work is focused on creating new vacuum lines for the University's Radio Carbon Dating Unit.

"I always strive to come up with new techniques which go outside the traditional bounds of glassblowing. The way I see it is that if I can come up with new techniques as technologies develop, this has a direct flow on effect to the ground breaking research our students and staff can do."

Glassblowing is more than a just a job and Steve says "it beats working for a living". Throughout his 28 years of scientific glassblowing and 18 years at the University, he has also managed to fit in glass blowing as a hobby, and has created everything from glass caricatures for wedding cakes to a fully functional glass didgeridoo.

- Hamilton News

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