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Small Business Saturday helps glass blowing studio get in holiday spirit

It was cold outside, but, "It's hot in here," said Mac Jensen, 9, who spent part of Small Business Saturday blowing into one end of a long pipe with a globule of hot glass on the other end.

Mac was participating in a workshop to make holiday ornaments at the Corradetti Glass blowing Studio and Gallery in Woodberry.

A few feet from Mac was a large furnace for heating glass to 2,350 degrees, one of three furnaces in all.

He and his parents, Christopher and Kathleen Jensen, of Lutherville, were among 64 people, many of them families, who came from as far away as Glen Burnie and Westminster to pay $42 per ornament they made.

For Mac, the workshop was a chance to get into the holiday spirit in a hands-on way, though there wasn't much to do other than pick a color and blow into the pipe to help cool the glass.

For his mother, who works in a Mount Vernon art gallery and "dabbles" in drawing and painting, the workshop was a chance to watch other artists at work and dream that someday, her son, a student at St. Paul's School for Boys, may become an artist, too.

"I'm interested in the creative process," she said. And she said that in Mac, "We might have the next (Dale) Chihuly," a reference to the acclaimed glass blowing artist.

Mac liked the idea of becoming an artist.

"Maybe," he said.

For longtime glass blowing artist Anthony Corradetti and his wife Julie, it was an opportunity to participate in Small Business Saturday and show off their 4,000-square foot studio and gallery in Clipper Mill.

With a trend in recent years toward shopping locally, Julie Corradetti wondered why people would go to a big-box store.

"Who does that benefit?" she asked. "China."

Small Business Saturday began in 2010, started by American Express. Now, the day after Black Friday is gaining national attention in its own right, with a campaign slogan of "Shop Small."

The Corradettis have been in businesses for about 30 years, the past seven at the Clipper Mill artist enclave near Woodberry Kitchen. Anthony Corradetti, 56, is a respected glass blowing artist in his own right, with pieces in the White House and Smithsonian museum collections. Items for sale in the gallery ranged from $32 drinking glasses to vases and sculptural pieces for up to $8,000.

The Corradettis and their staff of about nine have been holding family-themed workshops for about six years, most recently a pumpkin ornament-making workshop before Halloween that convinced many people to come back Saturday.

This was the studio's first year of being affiliated with Small Business Saturday and Anthony Corradetti, of Sparks, saw it as good for business.

"You do everything you can to get business in," he said.

Families were enthralled as Anthony Corradetti and three instructors made ornaments before their eyes, a roughly 10-minute process in which the raw materials of glass, including silica, potash, soda ash and lime, is poured into the large furnace, then "gathered" on the poles for heating and reheating. Each ornament is also baked with colored sprinkles.

Making an ornament for Mac's friend from school, Aidan Ray, 10, of Federal Hill, was instructor Josh Tracy.

"They all look black and orange because they're hot. This one is actually blue, red and white," Tracy said.

Ray's mother, Jennie, said it was a no-brainer to bring her son to the workshop.

"Little 10-year-old boys and fire - you can't deny them," she said.

Jeff Ellin, 33, of Woodberry, brought his 5-year-old daughter, Alexandra.

"We're here to make an ornament for ourselves and for her grandma," Ellin said.

The Schneider family, Bradley, Amy and their two children, Rowan, 6, and Anakin, 10, came from Glen Burnie to attend the workshop. The parents had been to the fall workshop and were so impressed that they came back with their children in tow, "to spend some time together as a family," said Bradley Schneider, a T. Rowe Price information technology specialist.

Susan Boyce, of Westminster came with her children, Sarah and Spencer Zimmerman, both in college.

"I always wanted to try glass blowing," Boyce said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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