MiVT: AO Glass

Published: Dec. 28, 2020 at 1:26 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - When you hear glass blower, do you think of a small operation?

Maybe so, but that’s not the case at Burlington’s AO Glass.

”We dare to move beyond a single person studio, and become more of an enterprise where we look to work with different organizations around the state and the country,” explained co-owner Rich Artenzen.

The company began in 2007 when Rich and his wife, Tove Ohlander, moved to Burlington after meeting at glass blowing school in Sweden.

Though it started small, they now employ about 17 people and have an apprenticeship program, making high-quality glass products of all types.

”About 95 percent of what we do right now is making commercial components for the high-end lighting industry. Hubbardton Forge and Conant Metal and Light are two companies we work with,” said Arentzen.

Aside from their lighting fixtures, AO Glass creates all sorts of glass goodies, from drinking vessels to little trinkets.

“What I’ve noticed over the years is people do like the beauty of glass but what makes it more interesting for them is if we introduce some icon or some reference, like making a polar bear or snowman, or with the Vermont stamp,” he says.

It’s a complex process, depending on whatever product is being made, from getting the melted glass from the 2,000-degree furnace to blowing, shaping, cooling, polishing, even flame polishing to make edges smoother.

That all has to happen before being shipped off or sold to customers looking for products made by craftsmen and women, who clearly take pride in their work.

“I think if you can see the hand of the maker, even within its perfection, that’s a good sign that you’re looking at a quality product glass,” said Arentzen.

“And does that happen [at AO glass]?“

“It does happen here, yes,” Arentzen answered.

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