DRIVE TIME FROM LARGER CITY:
-Mobile, AL: 1 hour, 4 minutes
Inside the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach, a pale lilac chandelier overhangs a spacious gallery area. On first glance, I could have sworn this was a creation by renowned glass artist, Dale Chihuly. But then I learned the piece was actually handcrafted by two artists who staff The Hot Shop, near Gulf beaches. Visitors are welcome to watch artists at work in what has become Alabama’s premier hot glass blowing facility. This is also a great place to take a "Make Your Own Glass" class and walk away with your choice of a paperweight, vase, tabletop decorative glass piece or even a holiday ornament.
During my first visit, I crafted a turquoise ribbed Christmas ornament with the expert help of our instructor. On my most recent visit, I created this gorgeous paperweight that now adorns my desk.
It was such fun to see our pieces emerge from nothing! Super-heated metal rods, and water became the vehicle for converting glass beads into molten and cooled layers. Our instructors used hand tools and we shared blow torches with them, to further transform each piece. The entire process took less than 20 minutes.
Creating gorgeous glass pieces inside The Hot Shop was a blast. Classes are available on weekday mornings, cost $85, and require reservations. Treat yourself to this creative opportunity, the next time you visit Orange Beach, Alabama.
Please note: As a writer associated with the travel industry, I received a complimentary class for the purpose of this review. While it has not influenced this post, I wish to disclose all potential conflicts of interest.
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