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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Glassblowing for All Ages

A day at Howe Glassworks Studio.

Before last week, almost two decades had passed since I last touched a blowpipe. I had long forgotten the weight of the ancient tool in my hand and the heft of the glass at the end. Full disclosure: I spent three of my four college years blowing glass as part of my Fine Arts degree before leaving my once‐treasured craft behind for a “real job.” So with a wave of nostalgia and excitement, I eagerly wound my way to the Howe Caverns property for my session at the new Howe Glassworks Studio.

Glassblowing combines design, color, and physicality in a way that is absent in other mediums. The heat of the furnace, the heaviness of the tools, and the “campfire‐esque” smells in the air all combine for a full‐sensory experience. People are fascinated by glassblowing and perhaps find it a bit enigmatic. Many studios have even designed their space to allow for outside observation in an attempt to remove some of the mystery. Howe Glassworks has taken that to the next level, completely tearing down any remaining walls by inviting guests to step into the studio to create their own piece of art.

Howe Caverns has been a destination since 1929, showcasing the natural wonders of the underground world in their guided tours. Howe Glassworks opened early this year, allowing visitors to add another memory to their trip. Guests, under the guiding hand of director and artist in residence Dorian Ordoyne, select their project and colors and experience as they create their piece of art.

Ordoyne gathers the molten glass, shapes it, and starts the “bubble.” With her calm, accessible demeanor, she explains every step, so her students feel confident when she passes the blowpipe to them. The students add color, blow, and shape the piece under her guidance. With a tap, the piece is expertly removed from the pipe and whisked off to the annealer to await its gradual cooling cycle. Students can pick up their cooled and finished pieces (sharp edges are ground down by Ordoyne and her staff) or have them shipped anywhere in the world for a modest fee.

This unique hands‐on experience, followed by showing off your finished piece to friends and family, is priceless. It is something that you can literally carry with you. The cost of the session varies by project but generally starts at around $50. Ordoyne also offers 10‐week sessions that allow her students to immerse themselves in the process. Visit howeglassworks.com for more information, pricing, and to make reservations. I am sure the experience will spark a passion within you.

Howe Glassworks Studio
255 Discovery Drive, Howes Cave
518.296.8900; howeglassworks.com

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