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Art and Energy at the International Festival of Glass 2019

23 – 26 August 2019

The International Festival of Glass celebrates the spectacle, drama and excitement of glassmaking every two years across the Stourbridge Glass Quarter.

Since its inception in 2004 the Festival’s aim has been to celebrate and showcase the skill and innovation of the glass industry and makers, both historic and contemporary, local and international

We will be showing examples of our first solar panel artworks and a demonstration of how we made them and how they work.

Please come along and see us at Ruskin Glass Centre, The Glasshouse, Wollaston Road, Amblecote, Stourbridge, DY8 4HF

We will also be running two workshops.

TEENAGE SKILL UP Extinction rebellion! Powerful teenagers

23rd August, 2019 at 10:00am – 4:00pm

During this day long workshop you will work with solar panel artist Chloe Uden and master glass craftsman Ian Hankey to make a solar artwork on the theme of Extinction Rebellion.

The solar panel artwork we produce will be displayed throughout the rest of the festival. You can collect your artwork at the end of the festival to take home. 


WORKSHOP: Pretty Useful! Make your own solar panel artwork

25th August, 2019 at 10:00am – 4:00pm

Join solar panel artist Chloe Uden and make your own simple solar panel artwork that you will be able to take home at the end of the day to charge your phone.

During this day long workshop you will

  • Learn the basics of solar energy
  • Work on the surface and reverse of the glass to create a unique solar panel design
  • Tab up solar cells
  • Connect the electrical components
  • Test your pieces
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Demo session – Ocean Studios Making Table – Friday 12th July

The Big Bang Fair at Westpoint Arena near Exeter was fairly mind-blowing! Around 6000 children from across the South West visited the event, and about 175 people participated in helping us make solar panel artworks.

Some of the Art and Energy team, Chloe, Naomi and Jenny will be working on the next stage of making these pieces (etching, engraving and painting) in a public demonstration at Plymouth Ocean Studios’ Making Table on Friday the 12th of July from 10am – 3pm.


We would love to see you there if you’re able to make it! 

We are very grateful to Exeter Science Park for the opportunity to showcase our work at the Big Bang Fair, and also to meet so many inspiring and enthusiastic people and we look forward to displaying the finished artworks later on in the year.

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Girl power

To be fair, no-one ever told me I couldn’t make solar panel artworks.

There were plenty who were skeptical, but, the majority of my experience to date has been of exceptional, unexpected, generous and enthusiastic support from people who want us to succeed in our venture. 

But you know, I’ve been in a few technology and engineering colleges….and there aren’t very many women there.

It made me think…..Women are invited….in fact, we are encouraged and needed, to participate in every aspect of humanity’s response to the climate emergency and studies show that diversity in the work environment can increase innovation.


When I look back, I wonder – Why didn’t I go into STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Maths ) straight away?

I remember 100% test results in my electronics class; all those satisfying maths problems; beautiful graphs and diagrams; playable data; intriguing science experiments; mind-blowing discussions about the nature of the universe…. I really loved STEM stuff. So why did I decide to do something else?

Maybe because I was also good at other stuff that I got more praise for: Like singing, dancing, acting, drawing.

Maybe it was something to do with freedom: I remember thinking at 16 – If I study art, I can explore science in my work, but if I study science, it will be harder to explore art.


When we first made a solar panel artwork at the kitchen table, I realised that playing with energy is MUCH more fun and creative than I had realised before… and also MUCH easier.

That’s not to say that it is without any risks…you have to be careful with the kit!….and nothing ALWAYS works…but, that’s part of the fun. Working with solar cells requires careful attention, and if you give it that, then you can make your own electricity and use it to power something in your life.


Over the weekend, we ran a solar charger making workshop with a brilliant group of girls between the ages of 9 and 11 and their grown-ups.

Thank you to Exeter Community Energy for supplying the kit to run the workshop!

What was so noticeable for me was how skillful, focused and thoughtful this young group were.

It was really heartening to see parents supporting their girls to experience things they wouldn’t necessarily get to do at school: Soldering, using sharp tools, and power tools.

Each of them came away having learned a bit more about solar power, they achieved something tricky, found solutions to problems, and developed skills for resilience.

Their solar panel chargers will be something that they can use, share and tell a good story about.

I hope we’ve helped these young women to see themselves getting creative with STEM for the future.

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Kids solar panel profiled on Blue Peter’s post of the week!


Blue Peter like the solar panel that Reuben, Poppy, Izzy, Tomas, Hector and Felix made for them so much that they’ve posted a lovely piece about it on their blog!

Look here! 

The kids have been using their panels to charge their devices at home, and are planning to take their badges to praise assembly at school soon.

Thank you again to Ian Hankey and Jenny Ayrton and Ian Hankey for helping us run the workshop and thank you again to Will Dolphin for capturing the moment in lovely pix of the workshops.