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On the Clock: Merging the art of apple growing and glass blowing

Eau Claire (WQOW) – The season of apple picking is coming to a close as the winter season freezes over, but things are heating up for one area orchard.

The Glass Orchard isn’t your typical apple picking place, because the grove grows fruit that you can and can’t sink your teeth into.

“Our profession is glass and glass blowing,” said Jon Chapman, co-owner of The Glass Orchard. “So that, without a doubt, no matter where we went, was going to be a part of the equation.”

In 2017, Chapman and his partner Dawn Passineau stumbled upon a property, once known to Eau Claire residents as Carlson’s Orchard, off of Deerfield Road.

“So when the apples also came into the equation, we saw potential there for something interesting, kind of an arts and agriculture entity that would really merge the two things,” said Chapman.

The acre’s apples offer a variety of flavors during picking season. However, The Glass Orchard offers endless gourds of glass year-round.

“During this season are some of the glass Christmas trees that we make or holiday trees,” said Passineau. “We do glass ornaments. So, we are going to have a bunch of different things in there during the holidays.”

So, what does it take to make these sculptures come to life?

“We have our pipe warmer that heats up our pipes prior to going into the furnace to gather the glass,” Passineau said.

That furnace holds about 300 pounds of molten glass.

“We have that sitting at 2,000 degrees at all times,” Passineau said.

The glass in then shaped with tools like jacks and shears. The glass is also colored and reheated repeatedly. Of course, Chapman and Passineau use their breath to blow up the glass. Then, the 3D sculpture is slowly cooled and ready for shelves. Passineau said timing and teamwork can make or break a crystal clear creation.

“You have to work slowly and you have to work well with the person that you are either assisting or is assisting you,” Passineau said.

The two said they’ve found their groove at The Glass Orchard, through their experience and their love for the art of glass blowing.”

“It’s been everything we dreamed it could be,” Passineau said.

If you’re interested in taking a glass blowing class, or simply want to check out what The Glass Orchard has to offer, head to their Facebook page.

Shannon Hoyt

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