Make your Own China at this Glass Blowing Factory
I have found that in Vermont, there are endless opportunities to do something you’ve never done before. While I would never consider myself an artist, I have always had a few creative bones in my body. However, glass blowing has always been one of those things I never thought I could actually do. To mold colorful glass into functional everyday items seemed so complicated. But after a visit to Manchester Hot Glass, I learned practically anyone can try their hand at it. For this Venture Vermont, we channeled our inner artist at Manchester Hot Glass. Here’s everything you need to know to experience this one-of-a-kind Venture.
Manchester Hot Glass is a quick 25 minute drive from the Stratton Mountain Village. Located at 79 Elm Street, Manchester Center, Vermont. See map here. After you glass blow, be sure to explore the quaint town of Manchester. There’s a multitude of fine outlet shops and dining options to please your palette.
What We Learned
Manchester Hot Glass owner, Andrew, has been blowing glass for most of his life, with his craft taking him on adventures around the world. His experience shows in his ease of motion in handling and molding the hot glass. Andrew & his crew of glass blowers are extremely helpful through every step of the glass blowing experience. It can be a little intimidating being in a room with two large ovens with glass heating at temperatures around 2,000 degrees inside. However, the staff ensures your safety through the entire glass blowing process. Also, be prepared to laugh. Andrew is probably the wittiest artist we’ve ever met.
Customize Your Visit
You can choose from a few different classes based on your skill level, age, and amount of time you have to spare. We decided to make our own glass blown object. You can pick from a list of things such as a pint glass, wavy bowl or flower vase.
Lauren and I decided on a wavy bowl, while Courtney crafted her very own pint glass. There are 10-15 bright colors you can choose from to customize your piece, and you can choose them all if you want to.
Molly and Andrew were extremely helpful in assisting us with the glass blowing. Molly got the process started by accumulating a ball of hot glass in the large oven. The ball of glass – which looks like lava – formed in a clump on the end of a long metal rod. She rolled the shards of colored glass and we began. Andrew guiding us every step of the way, we blew air as hard as we could into the hollow metal rod, allowing the glass to expand into a larger ball. From there, we did a series of steps that included rolling the ball of glass against a slab of wood to flatten it out and manipulating the shape with large pliers. I was in awe of how easy the glass was able to be shaped into what we wanted. Once the glass was molded, Andrew places it into a special oven overnight to set the piece.
In more basic class, you’ll learn how to make your own paperweight. You can pick your own colors and Andrew and his team will assist you with the glass art. This is great for anyone who wants something more simple or younger kids above the age of 6. This takes about 15 minutes to complete.
If you want to become a glass blowing master, you’re a beginner looking to sharpen your skills, or you want to get as much information possible, take the glassblowing 101 class. You’ll get to make 4-5 glass pieces like a shot glass, pint glass or glass flower. Andrew also hold various other classes – check them out here.
With any glass object, it needs to cool down over night. So, keep in mind that you need to come back the next day to get your masterpiece. If you are leaving town, Andrew is able to ship your item to your home. But, we suggest trying to pick it up yourself, so you can use it asap! Andrew also prefers if you make an appointment for your glass blowing. Give him a call at 802-362-2227 – age ranges vary for each class, but we would recommend 6-8 and up.
The Finished Product
“I really enjoyed the whole experience. The place itself is awesome, our instructor was top notch and seeing the objects take shape was so cool!” -Lauren
“My favorite part was the moment we received our finished work after a night of cooling. I felt very accomplished!” – Courtney
“The best part was seeing the blob of hot glass actually form into a recognizable shape. And knowing that I was able to create that is really awesome.” -Cassie
About the Author
Cassie Russo | Growing up in central Massachusetts, Cassie ventured to the snowy mountains of Vermont almost every weekend until her late teens to enjoy her passion – snowboarding. After working at a ski shop while studying for a degree in journalism, Cassie knew Vermont was her next destination. You can now find her living her dream of residing in Vermont, pursuing a writing career and strapping a snowboard to her feet every day. When the snow melts, you can find her on her paddle board, on the tennis courts and searching for the next adventure.
Cassie’s Instagram and Twitter:@cassachusetts