Saturday, 10 January 2009

Everything has to start somewhere. Making Glass Cloches.

So why don't I just start at the beginning? Well to tell the truth I don't know where that is anymore! In which case all I can do is start with today and work my way outwards. Forwards into the plan and backwards into the planning. In that way I hope to give a picture of why we've decided to start this project, the problems we face and how we overcame/overcame them. So let's get back to today.

Today I've been making Barn Cloche frames. These are the metal and glass Barn cloches invented by Chase back in the early 1900s. Now that plastic mini polytunnels have taken over no one seems to have these cloches any more, but I see them as a durable and sustainable way to extend the growing season.Why am I making them?

Simple I couldn't find any to buy at a price I could afford.

Having a few of my grandfathers frames I made a jig or template to bend the wires on. This was made out of 4"x1" timber and some coach bolts. The wires were 8mm steel, which is a bit over the top, but I wanted to make something to last, however it did mean heating it to be able to bend it to shape. This was done with a propane gas torch and a few old fire bricks. I did consider building a charcoal hearth, but I really needed to get these made ready for the new growing season. Once heated it was easy to bend the steel to shape around the bolts.
Each bend is done on each wire starting at the middle/top one and working down to the bottom bend shown here which is the one that holds the horticultural glass in place. What we are making is really mini greenhouses that can be moved from crop to crop as the season progresses. With these I hope to extend my growing season such that there is very little 'down time'. What I really like is that I've made something that will be around for generations to come. Just as I'm using my grandfathers original frames, and even some of his glass, so will someone use these to grow when I'm long gone!

So there it is, something made and released into the world, a bit like this blog. Once released who knows where it will go!
So this is the end product.
Happy Growing


  1. I'd be really interested to know how you make the spring clips for cloches as I'm hoping to make some myself. Any information greatly appreciated.


  2. Proper job! It's nice to have something you'll bring out of the store every year. So many of the commerically available cloches seem flimsy and over priced.

  3. Hello Richard,

    Did you make the various clips as well? If so, what wire did you use?

    I've only just discovered your site - really interesting, so many thanks.