Glass in the Glory Hole

I am a loser at the whole group buying experience. You know, Groupon and all  the other wanna-be’s that offer experiences or purchases at a huge discount? I’m a loser because I’ve purchased so many that never got used and which ultimately expired.  And that’s nearly what happened with the Groupon I purchased for Uptown Glassworks.

Uptown Glassworks - Renton, WA

Uptown Glassworks – Renton, WA

About this time last year I was thinking ahead to our 28th wedding anniversary in October. We generally try to do something fun or meaningful, but we don’t make a huge thing out of it.  But last year I wanted to do something different and that’s when I saw the group buy that would allow us to “blow” our own glass and pick up some fun garden art. We love fun and unique things in the garden and border on kitschy, so I signed us up.

Unfortunately, the husband works full-time with a job that requires 24-hr shifts and he has a construction business on the side. Additionally, in the summer and fall he’s a wildland fire fighter so our anniversary came and went and we weren’t able to schedule our visit. As all Groupon’s do, ours expired. I was disappointed but I figured what the heck, I’ll give Uptown Glassworks a call and see if they’ll honor it.

I was delighted to find out not only would they let us come in almost a month after the offer ended, but because they no longer had the art pieces available that were to be included, they’d allow us to pick anything we liked from the store for the same value! I made our appointment and we arrived a week later for our session.

Uptown Glassworks is located just about 7 miles from our home and I’m embarrased to say I didn’t know they were there! They’re smack dab in the middle of downtown Renton on a very eclectic street of businesses.  Thankfully they had free and easy parking and an easy-to-find location.

Our Uptown Glassworks Blow-Your-Own Experience

We were introduced to our glass blower, Tom, an artist with over 30 years in the glass blowing craft and a fun and warm fellow. He took us to the color table to select the shape  of our pieces as well as the colors our they would be made from. We chatted about color combinations and marveled at the finished products displayed above our heads as inspiration.

Steve blowing his glass egg while the artist, Tom, shapes it.

Steve blowing his glass egg while the artist, Tom, shapes it.

Tom guided us to the area where the glass blowing is done and we had a few minutes of instruction on how the whole process works – the heat of the oven, the blowing and shaping process, and then the cooling regime. Tom was easy to chat with and he’s a wealth of information about the art of glass blowing.

Steve went first and his creation was a glass egg with the colors of fire and ice – befitting a fire fighter I think! My choice was a float with lots of flaming orange and yellow.  The actual process of making the glass art takes about 30 minutes from start to finish because the artisan does all the work with the exception of having you “blow” the piece. For those who’d like to learn the entire process there are classes available.

Our new blown glass vase at home with our other pieces - love it!

Our new blown glass vase at home with our other pieces – love it!

For us the experience was a great way to spend a few hours, learn about an art we’ve admired for years, and come home with some amazing piece we’ll enjoy for years. It took us well over an hour to decide on the piece we’d “buy” with our Groupon and after scouring the store and turning over almost every piece, we decided on a gorgeous royal blue vase and a orange paperweight. We love them! We also returned a few days later to pick up our now completed (and cooled) pieces.  They look fabulous and are a great reminder of our very belated but much-loved 28th wedding anniversary.

I guess with our scheduling I better get busy on planning our 29th anniversary escape since it’s just 5 months away. Special thanks to the Uptown Glassworks people for honoring my expired coupon and for giving us a truly great memory.