Glass art that gives back - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Glass art that gives back

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AO Glass Works in Burlington dips its pieces during production -- and into its own pockets -- making this business unique.  

"We came out of the small studio crafts movement and at this point we're at the light manufacturing movement," said Rich Arentzen -- the A in AO Glass -- the O is his wife, Tove Ohlander. The couple, with the help of six employees, create pieces of art made out of glass.

Half of the their business is commercial manufacturing for larger lighting companies. A quarter of the business is from the sale of smaller products.  And each of those sales help non profits.  For example, one dollar from the sale of small penguins benefit Vermont Special Olympics. The penguin symbolizes the organization's most popular event -- the Penguin Plunge.

"It creates this great space where creativity and craft can meet. A force that wants to do something, that wants to work for positive change," Ohlander said.

The company works with 15 organizations -- 14 are Vermont based -- the other is Polar Bear International. Beyond the donations, AO Glass Works says it's about spreading awareness to its customers.

Ohlander has an illustration background which she puts to use on many of the pieces-- making custom carved stamps and etching into the glass directly.  Originally from Sweden, a country known for glass blowing -- she studied the art form there. It's also where the couple's love started to burn.  He was in Sweden also studying glass blowing.

The two moved to Norway, had three kids and started the glass company.
Eventually they settled in Vermont -- and say it's a perfect fit -- primarily because of the sense of community.

And the cold weather doesn't bother them, especially when they're creating Made in Vermont art next to a 2000-degree furnace.

AO Glass Works has a store on College Street in Burlington or you can order online.

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