Raise A {Homemade} Glass to Local Artisans

Foodies know that a restaurant experience is composed of more than the food. Décor and ambiance are equally important. We really enjoy seeing local art or other hand-crafted touches by local artisans utilized in restaurants. To that extent, I recently met up with Chris Crimaldi, founder of The Glass Asylum, a boutique industrial-chic glass studio in Chagrin Falls.

Chris and the team of artists have made a number of custom pieces for local restaurants that include M Italian (a convenient next door neighbor), Burntwood Tavern, Cork-N-Bottle, Paladar, and the new Rose Italian Kitchen.

I’ve always been enamored with beautiful glass, and I jumped at the chance to learn how to make my own piece of art. Chris and The Glass Asylum team opened their doors, and I took a hands-on glass blowing class with some other local bloggers.  The studio is open for workshops and group events. And because the studio is located in the same building as M Italian, they invite groups to hold a private glass-blowing event with food and wine.

Glass blowing is an art and, because it involves using molten balls of melted glass in a really hot environment, it is not for everyone. Glass artisans Jake and Amber helped me every step of the way—from selecting the item and glass colors, to melting it in the 2150° furnace, and guiding me through all of the precision hand movements that keep a molten ball of glass in the shape you want it. After the object is made, it goes into a kiln where it stabilizes at 950°, and it is cooled down slowly for 24 hours.

On Sunday nights, glass is added to the furnace, and it takes a full 24 hours to get to the desired temperature. The studio is open to the public Tuesday—Sunday. The furnaces run consistently every day and are turned off when the shop closes for July and August because, you guessed it, it is just too hot.

The experience is hands-on and, trust me, this is not as easy as other crafty pursuits but it is a lot of fun. I opted to make a garden gazing ball that will be a great memory of my visit to The Glass Asylum, but other options include vases, drinking glasses, flowers, and bowls. If you want to know more and schedule an event, visit The Glass Asylum website.

—Lisa Sands