MANHEIM, Pa. (WHTM) — Jeremy Friedly has been working with glass for about 15 years. He currently serves as the president, studio manager and head glassblower at Stiegel Glassworks, which is one of several studios featured in this weekend’s Northern Lancaster County Artists and Artisans Art Studios Tour.
“Glass blowing is a technical craft,” says Friedly. He likens the discipline and dexterity required for glasswork to those involved in learning an instrument like the violin.
With a father working as an art professor and fine artist, Friedly grew up around art, but he was first introduced to glass blowing while attending Harrisburg Area Community College.
“The first time I saw glass blowing all the furnaces were cold, and they didn’t look very exciting,” Friedly says, “but when we came in and they had them at over 2,000 degrees, it was like nothing I had ever seen before.”
The glass Friedly works with gets so hot that it can burn paper even after being shaped. “[The heat] definitely takes some getting used to,” he says, “You never quite get used to it though, you just get used to the idea of being in that heat.”
The mission of Stiegel Glassworks is to make hot glass accessible to the community and to continue the history of glasswork in Manheim, says Friedly. Henry William Stiegel founded Manheim in the late 1700s, and he had a glass factory about a block away from where Stiegel Glassworks currently stands.
Stiegel Glassworks was created in 1976 to demonstrate glass blowing at Manheim’s bicentennial celebration, Friedly explains. Today, Friedly and others, like studio coordinator Hallie Krebs, produce glass vases, bowls, pitchers, cups and seasonal decorations at the business.
From April 23-25, Stiegel Glassworks will be participating in the first-ever NLCAA Art Studios Tour. The event will feature 11 studios and galleries in Manheim and Lititz, several of which will also be offering demonstrations.
Crystal Dull, director of NLCAA, says she’s been planning this event for five years. “With everybody having to deal with the COVID restrictions and the artists really struggling, we felt that this was the year to do it,” she says.
“I think an event like this is great, especially [because] a lot of art events haven’t happened in the past year,” says Friedly. “I think this event will create a little bit of momentum.”
The studio tour is self-guided and features artists working in various mediums from glass to watercolor. Participants can find a list of participating studios and galleries, as well as driving instructions for the tour, on NLCAA’s website.