Vt. glassmaker wins $5M contract for US embassy crystal - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. glassmaker wins $5M contract for US embassy crystal

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QUECHEE, Vt. -

Shoppers come from far and wide to buy Simon Pearce glass, like Janis Lilie of Las Vegas. Lilie is visiting family in New Hampshire, but would not miss the opportunity to travel to the Quechee showroom.

"I was here last year, had lunch, loved it," Lilie said. "Bought tons of glassware. Loved it and came back to get more."

Downstairs, visitors get an up close look at how the products are made. And soon the works of art will be displayed in American embassies around the world.

"It is a custom design line of hand-blown glasses," said Steve Seto of Simon Pearce. "The very first piece that was designed and recently approved was a Champagne flute."

The company, which is based out of Windsor, has landed a $5 million contract from the State Department. Many of the pieces will be made in this studio.

"The specifics of the contract were they wanted handmade, American-made. And we are in a unique position that we are one of the few companies, honestly in the world, that do that," Seto said.

"When I first heard about the contract I was extremely happy, then extremely nervous right after," Bill Browne said.

Browne is a master glass blower who manages Simon Pearce's production. The exact design is not yet public, but one thing is for sure-- the glasses will be one-of-a kind.

"It is actually what we call the pulled stem. There is no bit work done on it. It is a clean bowl into a clean stem and then the foot is applied," Browne said.

And they will be made by craftspeople right here in Vermont. More glass blowers will be hired to fill the order and the company says it's up to the task.

"It is probably the best quality and best style. Love it," Lilie said.

The glass blowers will ramp up production after the first of the year on the initial purchase of 12,000 pieces, the very same pieces that will sit on dining room tables in embassies around the world.

Sen. Patrick Leahy personally wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry in support of Simon Pearce's bid for the contract.

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