Cara: Our al­ter­na­tive health guru

I cre­ate mir­a­cles for mums from breast milk!

Chat It's Fate - - Contents - Helen Han­cock, 42, from Derry, North­ern Ire­land

That’s beau­ti­ful,’ I mur­mured, eas­ing a white-hot ball of glass from the fur­nace and be­gin­ning to blow through my pipe.

Glass blow­ing had al­ways been my hobby, a deeply per­sonal way of chan­nel­ing my cre­ativ­ity. But when I be­came a mum, all my en­ergy went into tak­ing care of my kids, Lily, now 8 and Ge­orge, now 6, in­stead.

My births had been trau­matic, and breast­feed­ing had been a rocky road too. So when I spot­ted a poster of­fer­ing ba­sic peer sup­port train­ing to help oth­ers, I knew it was meant for me. I trained for two years to be­come a vol­un­teer breast­feed­ing coun­sel­lor, doula and baby mas­sage ther­a­pist.

Fem­i­nine en­ergy

I ab­so­lutely loved my job. Work­ing with new mums was so pow­er­ful. Lac­tat­ing women pro­duce oxy­tocin – the love hor­mone. I’d come out of my group classes feel­ing eu­phoric!

Time passed, my kids were grow­ing up, and I hadn’t picked up my glass-blow­ing tools in years.

One day, brows­ing the in­ter­net. I stum­bled across the web­site of glass blower Mel Scholz in Canada, who makes gor­geous bowls for breast­feed­ing women to ex­press milk into.

It felt like a sign call­ing me back to the stu­dio. I be­gan blow­ing glass again in July 2017 – and im­me­di­ately felt the heal­ing power of putting your heart and soul into some­thing you love do­ing.

Artist’s vi­sion

Then I had an­other idea: what if I could in­fuse my glass with breast milk? It was a bit off-the-wall, of course, but it’s ev­ery artist’s dream to do some­thing that’s never been done be­fore. ‘Do you fancy giv­ing me a lit­tle bit of milk to try blow­ing into glass?’ I asked the ladies in my breast­feed­ing group. My heart was thud­ding as I gen­tly in­tro­duced some of the milk into the hot glass. It had been a gift from one of my mums and I re­ally wanted to do her proud.

The idea was to trap liq­uid bub­bles be­tween the lay­ers of glass as it cooled, set­ting it for­ever - a bit like the insect caught in the am­ber in the movie Juras­sic Park.

I gasped as I turned the pa­per­weight I’d made over in my hands. The breast milk bub­bles looked liked a tiny con­stel­la­tion of stars.

Global suc­cess

Now I take com­mis­sions from all over the world – even from hus­bands who’ve smuggled a bit of their part­ner’s milk out of the fridge! It’s a way of pre­serv­ing this won­der­ful mo­ment of moth­er­hood for­ever.

I’ve also made bowls and vases from the milk of moth­ers who’ve trag­i­cally lost their ba­bies and want some­thing spe­cial to mark their pass­ing.

Each woman’s milk is dif­fer­ent, depend­ing on things like its fat con­tent, so each sam­ple cre­ates a unique ef­fect in the glass. Some come out look­ing like candy floss, while oth­ers are as frag­ile and del­i­cate as spi­ders’ webs.

Breast milk is one of the most beau­ti­ful and nat­u­ral things on Earth. It’s the divine fem­i­nine in all its glo­ri­ous essence.

Why shouldn’t it be art?

For more in­for­ma­tion on Helen’s work, or to com­mis­sion a piece, visit breast­bowl.com

I felt drawn back to the stu­dio

Artist’s pas­sion: Glass blow­ing

Mother’s milk: Spe­cial cre­ations

Beau­ti­ful: Unique bowls

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