Canada’s Largest Hot Glass Studio
Like blown glass? This will blow your mind!
When they told us we were going to have the opportunity to make a piece of art using hot glass infused with natural elements from the earth’s floor, we’re not going to lie – we were part excited and part terrified. Have you ever seen just how hot and thick molten glass is when it’s pulled from the fire? Hot. Like, wow that’s so hot.
But it’s not every day you get invited behind the scenes of Canada’s largest hot glass studio like Kitras Art Glass, with an extensive warehouse facility, where several glassblowing artists are performing their skill and crafting awesome objects beside giant furnaces (layman’s terms) all at the same time.
It’s a visceral experience. The smell of the fire, the heat of the space, the incredible sight of the orange fire, and then seeing a hot, glowing glob of thick molten liquid transform into shape, becoming something beautiful and delicate right before your eyes. It’s the awe that keeps you wondering, how do they do that? We were about to find out.
Kitras Art Glass: Glass Blowing Workshops
We were part of a tour of people who had never been behind the scenes of Kitras Art Glass. We were trying out one of their new workshops for small groups that allowed us to create our own square glass piece, using a molded form. The final product would be a decorative piece, something to place on a table or book shelf. In our case, our memento now sits on our desk as a reminder of the experience of being creative in an artform we could never have appreciated until we experience it. And it’s not just about the finished product. It’s the memory. It’s the story we tell about how this piece of ours came to be.
Each of us were asked to select from a tray of natural items: leaves of various shapes and sizes, pine needles, etc. We would place the pieces in the mold and then the fearless, well-trained, totally safe artist with the biggest oven mitts you’ve ever seen would come along and, with our support (meaning he guided us so we were as safe as possible), he poured hot glass into our mold. The natural leaves and pine needles would burn, leaving behind what would become basically a glass fossil. It was beautiful. The artist let the mold sit on a sand tray until it cooled.
Masters of Their Craft
Meanwhile, all around us, blown glass pieces are being crafted for customers of Kitras Art Glass. We watched as the hot globs appeared like giant tear drops hanging from the edge of a long metal pipe. Then the artist would blow on the end of the pipe, turning it slowly, and the glass at the other end would expand, slowly and steadily, until it was a globe shape. The glass was then rolled along a small metal table to ensure a balance of shape. Precision and patience. It’s really amazing to watch.
Once satisfied, the artist would roll the globe over shards of broken colour glass, lined up in specific colour formations. It would be fired again, expanding and shaping the colour into amazing bursts of bold colours and soft accents, and then shaped with metal instruments into these spectacular, finished pieces. The artist would use giant pliers to cut the glass from the metal pipe, twisting the final thick end of hot glass into a handle. Every piece different. Every piece perfect in its own way. It was impossible not to be impressed. Also, it was impossible not to ask a lot of really silly questions, which, by the way, the artists love because, let’s face it, if you are this good at creating art with glass – you love what you do. It shows. In every piece, by every artist.
Have you ever seen a piece of Kitras Art Glass? We bet you have. In fact, now that you know the name, you’ll start to see it in gift shops, specialty boutiques, art retailers and of course, right here in Fergus.
We’d like to point out that you’ll see samples of Kitras Art Glass in lots of places around town, like in the windows of family homes as you pass by, but some of our favourite sights are the glass décor you’ll find in gardens throughout town, where green thumbs take the naturally beauty of the garden and embellish it with the artistic flare of giant glass spiraled globes, or the round discs that catch the sunlight, or the colourful glass toadstools and solar light fixtures. Also look up, in the trees. Nobody makes a bird feeder as beautiful as Kitras does. Ask a Hummingbird!
You’ve never seen anything quite like this.
Around here, this family-run enterprise is legendary for being an artistic, creative business that has literally put our community on the map. Now celebrating 30 years, their success has gone far beyond our hometown. Distributing their beautiful glass pieces from to boutiques, shops and galleries from coast to coast across our home and native land, and shipping them southbound to our American neighbours, when people think glass – they think Kitras – they think Fergus. We’re okay with that.
You don’t have to take a workshop to experience this special place. The Kitras Art Glass showroom is a spectacle of colour and light and seriously worth the effort to stop by. Treasure seekers will enjoy this. Art lovers will appreciate it. Shoppers will be excited. And those curious to experience art, not just appreciate it – will marvel at the variety of products. From gift giving, to special occasions, home and garden décor to special keepsakes, there are no two pieces the same. It’s special. It’s unique. And it’s beautiful.
We’re totally thinking we want to be professional glass blowers in our next career. It could happen. Until then, we’ll just shop here and impress people with awesome gifts.
Check out the courses or book a tour for a group of your friends. And if you just want to shop, that’s okay too. You’ll find all the details on their website.