Glassblowing at Sundance Mountain Resort, Utah

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I wrote the following blog post for Sundance Mountain Resort about their awesome glass blowing program. If you ever have a chance to check these artists out, DO IT!

This article originally appeared at

Sundance’s Recycling Glass Program by Susan Strayer

Beautiful colors mix in a molten sphere as artisans create fragile treasures to inspire and admire.Sundance Mountain Resort boasts one of the nation’s only recycled glass workshops, where Mexican artisans Gustavo Calderón Sr. and Octavio Fidencio Flores mold and shape old bottles into new beautiful creations. This past week I spent some time chatting with them while admiring their work.
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Speaking in their native Spanish, Gustavo explained how the furnace functioned. “We have three ovens here, one melts down old bottles at 2,000 to 2,300 degrees Farenheit. The finishing oven is used to heat the project while we work it, to keep its shape. The final electric oven finishes the glass, lowering the temperature slowly so the piece doesn’t break.”

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All the glassware at Sundance Mountain Resort, from drinking glasses in the cabins to platters at the restaurants, is made on site in the Art Studio’s glassblower workshop. Pitchers, glasses, platters, vases, wish balls, and beautiful ornaments are created here. Whatever is not in use in the restaurants is on display in the Art Studio Gallery in a colorful array like a stained glass window.
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“Glass blowing is about teamwork,” said Octavio. “I blow and shape the glass to give it the form and Gustavo finishes. We always make new things, so it never gets boring.” As I watched Octavio take a glowing glob out of the furnace, I could see he was right. The pole he used was like a big straw and he could blow into one end to inflate the glob into a sphere. Gustavo was on hand to add colorful shards into the pole before Octavio put the piece into the second oven. Then like dominoes falling into place Gustavo was ready to snip the globe, finish the wish ball ornament and place it into the final oven. It was like watching a well rehearsed dance with both people anticipating their partners’ next move.
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“We have to work quickly with recycled glass,” Gustavo explained. “It’s harder to bend. With new glass workers could take up to an hour to make a platter. With recycled glass we have maybe ten minutes.”
 He explained that it takes up to ten bottles to make one drinking glass because of the quality and thickness of the materials. Empty wine bottles from the restaurants and soda bottles from the deli are collected at the resort and turned into new glassware and décor. Even local homeowners like myself have been known to leave their used bottles from time to time.
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Both Gustavo and Octavio hail from Guadalajara, Mexico where there is a strong glass blowing tradition. For the last thirteen years, this pair has left families at home to share that tradition withSundance Mountain Resort guests. Working next to furnaces of several thousand degrees can’t be easy but when I asked how they managed the heat they just shrugged and said, “Your body get used to it.”
To see these artists in residence in action, stroll past the workshop Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm May to January. You won’t be disappointed. Glassware can be purchased in the Sundance Art Studio.
Susan Strayer is a resident of Sundance and an outdoors enthusiast. Read more of her outdoor adventures at

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Author: Mountain Mom

Hi! I'm Mountain Mom. I live with my husband and three young kids in the mountains near Sundance, Utah. When we're not hiking, biking, skiing and camping, I spend my time doing Mom stuff and reading. Summer of 2016 we traveled over 7,000 miles along the US National Park to Park Highway.

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