On a recent random Sunday my boyfriend told me he had a surprise planned for me. “Wear your sneakers, jeans, sunglasses and a long sleeve shirt and be ready at 9’am” he instructed me. As we rolled through the back roads of Jaffrey I excitedly tried to guess where our destination would end. I assumed we’d be doing some sort of outdoorsy adventure that required warm clothing and decent walking shoes, but to my surprise as we rounded the corner on Route 202 I saw a building branding a giant sea turtle. We pulled into the parking lot of Terrapin Glassblowing Studio and a smile spread across my face.
We stepped into the gift shop and the welcoming area which was adorned with handcrafted works of art. Gorgeous glass ornaments swirling with ornate patterns and bold, vibrant colors hung from the ceiling. Tiny owls with brilliant beady eyes and miniature sea turtles with meticulous detail were some of my favorite pieces sitting amongst the shelves. I distractedly got lost in the room full of treasures and almost forgot what we came there to do that day.
We were greeted by the mother of the mother-daughter run glassblowing studio who brought us into the studio to watch a safety video before we began. From that video we learned that her daughter, Dom, took an elective course at Franklin Pierce University and from that moment the rest was history. She brought the dream to her parents and together they formed the business of what is now Terrapin Studio.
After the video we were brought into the glassblowing area for our class where we made four items: a clear glass flower, a colored glass flower, a colored paperweight, and a clear ornament. Dom and her partner Jimmy patiently instructed us on the art and techniques of basic glassblowing. Stay calm, always be around of your surroundings, spin slowly, keep your pipe level, and have fun were a few of the basic principles we mastered. We learned that Jimmy was just an ordinary student like us, until he took a course and instantly fell in love with the art. He pursued more challenging pieces as he advanced his technique and never looked back. He is testament to the quote from Terrapin’s website which reads, “Every artist was first an amateur”, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
We began our class by carefully gathering hot molten glass out of a 2000+ degree furnace on a 5’ long metal blowpipe (with the assistance of Jimmy of course). From there we either rolled the pipe in colored glass pigment shards or headed straight to the “Glory Hole” where we slowly spun the pipes and allowed the glass to cool. Once we made it to the work bench, Dom guided us in the technique of shaping our artwork. Dom put the necessary finishing touches on the piece and placed it in the Annealer (kiln) to cure properly. After about an hour, we were proud crafters of four gorgeous pieces each. We beamed with pride after a successful morning in the studio and autographed the wall before leaving for the day.
The cool thing about this particular studio is it offers so much more than basic classes. It’s a studio. It’s a gallery. They offer lessons, host parties, give demonstrations, and specialize in memorials (unique glass blown with the ashes of your loved ones or pets). They offer glassblowing and flame-working. They have classes for individuals and group classes. They offer private lessons and advanced classes. This business has evolved to offer a variety of services whatever your skill level may be.
As a side note, I gifted my gorgeous glass flowers to my mother and Nana for Mother’s Day. Both jaws dropped in disbelief when I proudly added that I had handcrafted them at Terrapin myself. The live plants and flowers I gifted them will eventually wither and die, but the glass keepsakes will be in their possession forever as a tribute to how much they are loved.