April 8, 2017

Fun Activity: Glass Blowing at Skansen!

And now for the reason behind my recent visit to Skansen...
I was invited by Stockholm's Glasbruk to try my hand at glassblowing! Swedish crystal and glass are very popular, with well-known glass design companies like Orrefors and Kosta Boda. Visitors to Sweden often want to buy Swedish glass and crystal to take back home with them and there are plenty of places to purchase these items throughout Stockholm. I often get questions from hotel guests wanting to visit the Orrefors and Kosta Boda glassworks and they are disappointed to learn that these are located in southern Sweden.
The glassworks as seen from the shop.
But... there is one glasswork in Stockholm: Stockholm's Glasbruk. Located in Skansen park, this glasswork has a great history and pedigree. Karin Hammar runs the glassworks today and is a third generation glasscraftsman, with her grandfather starting the company back in 1933 (they moved to Skansen already in 1936). They create many signature prizes for big award ceremonies, both local and international. Most famously, since 1993 they have created the beautiful award presented to the Eurovision winner (abstract heart in glass with the colors of the host nation).
Some of the beautiful handmade glassware on sale at the shop.
In Skansen, the glassworks is located in the "town quarter" along with other historic businesses like a tannery, ironmonger, pottery, printer and bakery. The glassworks is, by far, the most popular with visitors. Here you can browse through their shop, filled with beautifully designed glass... all handmade on site in the glassworks. A great place to buy some unique souvenirs or gifts to take home. You can also watch the glassmasters at work, making both glassware for the shop as well as commissioned pieces. As the glassworks are located within Skansen, you have to pay the entrance fee to get in. However, if you are just coming to do some shopping at the store... let them know at the entrance and you can get a refund on the entrance fee when you leave.
Now for the fun part... you also have the opportunity to try your hand at glassblowing! This was the reason for my visit last week. The package includes entrance to Skansen, a guided tour around the shop and glassworks, and blowing your own glass or glass ball (under supervision of one of the masters). You also get to keep the glassware you created, which is delivered to the hotel the next day (after it has time to cool). You also have the choice of adding a traditional Swedish fika to the package. Shipping abroad and booking times after regular opening hours are both possible at an extra cost. You can book this package on their website or, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me directly to book.
Glassmaster helping me dip the molten glass in pigment.
I found the whole experience to be very fun and educational. The atmosphere at Skansen also lends a historically Swedish feel to the experience. I was a little nervous at first considering the extremely hot materials being used. But they were very safety conscious and hands-on in their supervision. As you can understand, due to the hot materials, children aren't allowed to blow glass. After the glassmaster pulls out the molten glass, you get to choose the color of your glassware by rolling the molten glass in different pigments. After rewarming the glass, you alternate between blowing and using different tools to shape the glass.
Shaping the glass and...
...blowing it.
I had made a glass ball so, after cutting the glass, the glassmaster helped me put on an "eye" on the top with a piece of molten glass in order to be able to hang the ball. After that the glass was put aside to cool slowly. My finished glass ball was delivered to me at the hotel the next day. Perhaps not perfectly round but still pretty good, if I do say so myself, for my first attempt at glass blowing... and nice to have a souvenir to remind me of the experience!
The finished glassware arrives at the hotel.
Pretty good for my first try!

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