Arts, Dining & Entertainment, Featured

Learn the art of shaping glass at Fire on the Mountain

By Brooke Geery
Austin Oesterle works on his own project inside the studio part of Fire on the Mountain.

By Brooke Geery

Like many ski bums over the years, 25-year-old Austin Oesterle’s dream of moving up to Killington from Long Island, New York to snowboard hit a speed bump when he tore his ACL. Down but not out, he headed back to Long Island and shifted his creative efforts into learning to blow and shape glass at Elite Glass in Deer Park, New York. Now, only a couple years later, he makes a full time living at the craft — in Killington.

“I’ve been doing this for about two years and I love it every day,” Oesterle said. “I feel like it’s somewhat soothing just playing with glass all day.”

In addition to selling his creations through his Instagram @padd_glass, he also offers introductory classes out of the studio inside Fire on the Mountain Glass Gallery and Smoke Shop (1967 Route 4 in Killington). Mountain Times designer Krista Johnston and this writer were lucky enough to take his class last week, each creating a leaf-shaped pendant with our own two hands.

The Covid-safe, private course took about two hours, starting off with a demo by Oesterle, who generously assured us, “I am going to make this look easy, but it is not.”

By Krista Johnston
Oesterle gives a glass blowing demo after our class

After the demo we got to pick our own colored pieces of boro silicate glass (a.k.a. Pyrex), fire up our torches and get to work. As the sticks turned into molten goo, I realized Oesterle was right about everything — it wasn’t easy, but it was strangely soothing. The craft takes your full attention. But watching your project change and grow is very rewarding.

For the most part, Oesterle hung back and let us do things ourselves, stepping in when asked or if he noticed one of us getting frustrated. He would quickly fix our screw ups, and was happy to offer advice or assistance.

“A lot of intro to glass blowing classes the instructor does most of the work, but I don’t like to do it that way. It ruins the fun,” he said.

Mostly, he provided moral support and encouragement  as we bumbled through our first projects. There was no pressure or time limit.

Additionally, the studio provided plenty of space for social distancing, we all wore masks, and the art form necessitates a huge vent.

Classes are open to anyone over the age of 13, and any safety concerns were quickly assuaged by Oesterle’s careful approach.

If you’re looking for a great après activity, or just something to do in Killington besides skiing, definitely look into taking a class from Oesterle.  Classes are offered by reservation and cost $120 per person. For more information call (802) 772-7220.

2) Melting the end of the glass into a molten sphere
3) The molten sphere was smashed in flat-end tongs to make the paddle shape.
4) The paddle was heated again and stretched at one end.
5) The heated leaf shape was scored down the middle and cut on the sides to finish the overall design.

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