Raising a glass to Hobbit

By Anne-Marie Emerson

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The Hobbit movie made its much-anticipated Wanganui premiere overnight and sharp-eyed viewers may have noticed a little piece of the River City in the film: The glass.

Embassy3 showed its first screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at five minutes past midnight.

Every glass item in the Sir Peter Jackson movie was made by a team of Wanganui glass artists, led by Lindsay Patterson from Chronicle Glass.

"We made ink bottles to beer bottles to street lanterns - every little bit of glassware had to be original. They didn't just go and buy it from Briscoes; it had to really be from Middle-earth."

Mr Patterson estimates he made several thousand items of glass for the movie.

He worked on it for two years and it took up 90 per cent of his work time.

So how does a glass maker in Wanganui end up working on glassware for a multi-million dollar movie?

"I assisted on the glass work for the Lord of The Rings movies, so [the production company] knew who I was.

"And then the props manager for The Hobbit rang me up and asked me if I'd be interested in doing some work for them."

Mr Patterson was assisted in the work by Brendon Sole and Suzy Jacobsen and several others, mostly students from the Wanganui Glass School.

"It was great for the students and it was great for us. It really honed their skills, and they got to see how a commercial studio works.

"And we got help at a time when we really needed it," Mr Patterson said.

All the work was done at the Chronicle Glass studio, except for some of the very last work.

"At the end we were so busy we had to hire the studio at Wanganui Glass School."

Mr Patterson said the work was quite lucrative, although it had also sent his overhead costs through the roof as well.

Among the pieces he was commissioned to make were 1600 wine bottles - in Middle-earth style, of course - that were filled with wine and given as gifts to every member of the cast and crew when filming finished.

He said the work was challenging as all the pieces he was asked to make were unfamiliar to him.

"But overall I'm satisfied with the work I've done, and I know they're happy with it as well."

Mr Patterson said he was looking forward to seeing the movie for the first time. He intends to see it on the big screen at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington.

"Of course, I'll be watching it carefully to see my glasswork in it," he said.

Speaking before the Wanganui premiere at Embassy3, manager Gary Vinnell said ticket sales for the midnight screening were going well. He was expecting some movie-goers to dress up in Hobbit attire for the event.

Mr Vinnell said The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will screen four times daily at Embassy3 - twice in 3D and twice in 2D.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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