Wreath making and constructing gingerbread houses may be the first things that come to mind when you think of holiday crafting, but why not try something different this year? Make a visit to Thames Glass to learn more about the ancient art of glassblowing, then take a lesson with a skilled glassblower to make an ornament keepsake, paperweight or vase to add some sparkle to the season during your visit to Newport.
From Ancient Rome...
This centuries-old tradition involves using a blowpipe to mold molten glass into the shape of the artist’s choosing. Developed in the middle of the final century BC, this technique transformed the art of glassworking by introducing the concept of inflation -- the act of introducing a small amount of air into a molten mass of glass which is viscous enough to expand through blowing. As the structure cools, it hardens into a one-of-kind work of art.
...To Modern-Day Newport
Glassblowing artisan Matthew Buechner has been a staple on the Newport fine arts scene since he and his wife founded Thames Glass nearly 35 years ago. Today, he and his extraordinary team of glassblowers produce hand blown masterpieces, including everything from fish, fruit and flowers to vases and vegetables.
Visitors can stop by the studio at 688 Thames Street to observe the glass being made in the gallery. Just call 401-846-0576 on the morning of your planned visit to make sure they’ll be in the gallery blowing glass that day.
Or, for a special treat, schedule a glassblowing lesson of your own! Thames Glass's hands-on "Make Your Own Glassblowing Experience" -- offered most weekday afternoons, including weekends -- is designed just for beginners as an introduction to this fascinating glassworking method. You choose the colors and shape, then work alongside -- and with plenty of help from -- the artisans at Thames Glass to bring your vision to life. Just be sure to book in advance; while they do take walk-ins, available spots often fill up fast.
Or, if you’re looking for an original present, consider giving the gift of glassblowing. We can guarantee you: that impossible-to-shop-for person who always has everything won't have this!
Thames Glass and its glassblown gems add to the near-endless reasons to visit Newport this winter. And there’s no place better to serve as your holiday home base than The Chanler, where "merry and bright" are much more than song lyrics -- they're a way of life.