Kilkenny Shop celebrates 40 years with Jerpoint Glass! Read the interview

Jerpoint Glass have been associated with the Kilkenny Shop for 40 years since the day they began. They have been a great support over the years and a great showcase for Irish craft. Kilkenny Shop wants to highlight their story while we are promoting Irish craft & design in our shops. Their team answers a couple of questions to help you understand what they are doing.


Tell us a bit about the history of the company, how it was founded and what is being made today? Jerpoint Glass Studio is a small glass company and a true family business. Established in 1979 by Keith and Kathleen Leadbetter, together with their small team of glassblowers, they have built Jerpoint Glass into an internationally recognised name. Keith initially worked in pottery and in laboratory glassblowing in the UK. In the late sixties, he attended the prestigious Orrefors Glass School in Sweden to formally train as a master glassblower. After travelling extensively throughout Europe to develop his skills as a glassmaker, Keith returned to Ireland. Kathleen is a self –taught artist who is passionate about aesthetics and design. She has created the unique coloured glass palette now synonymous with Jerpoint Glass.

Can you describe the studio to us? How many people are on the team? There are 2 glassblowers who can work in a team or separately. There are 3 main machines – the furnace, the hole and the lehr. Glass is kept molten in the furnace, reheated in the hole for working with and slowly cooled in the lehr. Much time is spent working/manipulating glass in the work bench.

Can you describe the making process to us? Working with a material over 1100oC, the glass blower’s day ranges from the balancing act of shaping a paperweight to the intricate dance that forms a wine glass, involving 5 separate gathers of hot molten glass. Yet the simple hand tools of the glassblower have hardly changed since their origins 2000 years ago when glassblowing was introduced. A master glassblower, using movements that are deceptively minimal develops the desired shape by strategically heating, cooling and manipulating the red-hot liquid glass, until the magical transformation takes place.

What inspires the designs created by Jerpoint? We listen to music in the workshop. Rock and Roll!

What is your favour/most used tool and why? The Sacs (or Jacks) is a multitool. We use it for everything. It’s adaptable and reliable so it a glassblower’s best friend ... Sorry Milo!

How do your surroundings affect your work? Celebrating 40 years in business this year, we are fortunate to work in the heart of Kilkenny, with Mount Juliet on our doorstep and other woods such as Jenkinstown and Woodstock Gardens nearby. Each year, we witness first-hand, the countryside burst into colour and it is this dramatic transformation that has inspired our offering.