Salt & Sand Studios in Warren is more than a yoga studio; it also doubles as Vermont’s only full public access glassblowing school. While Karen McPhillips teaches yoga, her husband and co-owner Spencer Kirk-Jackson teaches glassblowing, glass fusing and flame working in a refurbished barn from the mid-19th century.
Kirk-Jackson said they have tried to set up the studio to be as close to zero waste as possible. “Waste glass” gets upcycled and made into cutting boards, which are for sale at the Mad River Taste Place, and even used to replace a window in the couple’s home. The glassblowing studio uses an electric furnace. “We’re trying to be as green as we can,” Kirk-Jackson explained.
Classes offered include glassblowing, flame or “lamp” working, and glass fusing. Classes have limited capacity due to space and safety, which allows for one-on-one instruction. Students in glassblowing classes can learn the skills necessary to make a colored glass drinking cup, while learning how to work as a team. “It’s the only art form I know where you can’t work solo,” Kirk-Jackson said. Flame-working students learn to make beads for jewelry and marbles and small sculptures such as fish or lady bugs. Those in fusing classes learn to make glass plates and coasters.
Students can start fusing at any age, while flame working is limited to ages 12 and up and glassblowing is limited to ages 14 and up. Salt & Sand is offering summer programs for kids to spend a week fusing, flame working or glassblowing. Scholarships are available. See programs at https://www.saltandsandstudios.com/.
Kirk-Jackson said the studio, which opened in 2018, gets a couple hundred students a year. He has been blowing glass for 14 years. He first saw someone blowing glass when he was 9 years old and was fascinated but didn’t see it as a career option for himself. He spent 25 years working in computers before he was reintroduced to glassblowing and said now “It’s all I want to do every day.” His work can be found at the gallery on Salt & Sand Studios’ property. “It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s a unique art form.”