Creative clusters and the evolution of knowledge and skills: From industrial to creative glassmaking

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Glassmaking is considered part of the craft sector and represents an interesting cross-over between design and artistic research and industrial (material and technical) innovation and understanding. However, in the history of glassmaking – which has for centuries concentrated in regions that could provide energy and primary materials – we can recognise the struggle for preserving and developing glass making skills through processes of skill development and deskilling. The paper reflects on the emergence of new craft-based glassmaking in post-industrial contexts where glass was traditionally produced industrially, giving us the opportunity to question processes of deskilling, re-skilling and upskilling in relation to industrial, post-industrial and creative making. Using in-depth qualitative interviews across two case studies of glassmaking clusters in the UK cities of Sunderland (North East) and Stourbridge (West Midlands) we consider the role of tradition and local knowledge as well as the importance of networks and infrastructure. We propose to investigate how the old industrial past of these two locations, specifically how knowledge and skills are traditionally lost, is reinvented and re-used in the new glass making work taking place today. Finally, the paper reflects on how skills and knowledge from traditional industrial clusters might connect to new models of flexible and specialised production in the creative and cultural industries through phases of deskilling, reskilling and upskilling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-247
Early online date16 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Creative industries
  • Creative clusters
  • Glassmaking
  • Craft
  • Evolutionary economic geography
  • Skills


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