On a recent visit to Twin Farms in Vermont’s pastoral countryside, we got a tip from our host to check out the nearby town of Quechee for “the best glassblowing and lunch in Vermont”. What a combination, we thought, so we made the short drive from Barnard to Quechee and found a great way to spend an afternoon, and an amazing story to share.
Quechee is a small town along the Ottauquechee River. And it’s where Simon Pearce, the Irish-born master glassblower, in the 1970s purchased an abandoned 1778 wool mill to live and work in.
1778 may sound quite old, but Pearce is no stranger to ancient architecture. He grew up in the town of Shanagarry on Ireland’s south coast. That was the hometown of William Penn just before he headed over to the Americas in 1682 to start his new-society experiment in what’s now Pennsylvania.
Simon is the latest of a long line of artisans, including his father, who ran a small pottery studio. When Simon was pondering his career choice, the age of mass-market consumer goods was just getting into full swing and he recognized that hand-crafted arts were in danger of obscurity. So he decided to continue the family’s long craft tradition by enrolling in the London Royal College of Art. After graduation, he apprenticed with some of the best European glassblowing houses and then returned home to establish his own studio in Ireland.