Cheshire Glassworks glimmers with the colors of winter

Rods of glass stand on a workbench in every color, red and amber, green and gold. Hold one in a blowtorch flame and it will melt and flow like honey. Catch the drip with a metal rod and turn it, and the glass will spin around the metal in filaments like hard candy. Keep turning and they will melt smooth.

In her studio at Cheshire Glassworks, Jill Reynolds is making beads. They reflect the changing seasons, the shifting landscapes outside her window. Not long ago, she said, she made one that felt like a November day. She striped the glass green and gold, with blue for the autumn sky.

“The colors you get are so rich,” she said. “A dot of color and a clear lens of glass magnifies it, like a planet, or under water.”

Reynolds offers her translucent beads at her shop in Cheshire, and at the Red Lion Inn and Hancock Shaker Village — where the village shop is open through the holidays.

‘The colors you get are so rich. A dot of color and a clear lens of glass magnifies it, like a planet, or under water.’

She loves to experiment with colors, she said, as they play together and set each other off in contrast.

“There are so many colors and ways to make what you’re making,” she said. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I feel like I’m still in elementary school. It’s vast, and there are so many ways to learn. I don’t follow videos. It just depends on how I feel that day and what I feel like making.”

She often works with her husband, Jeff. They have a workshop at home, she said, in the shed behind their house, and they will work there quietly together. He makes settings in silver for her pendants — she has expanded into bright droplets, layered and swirled, and sometimes holding shapes in their depths like unfurling petals.

Jeff also works in glass.

He had studied glassblowing before they met, she said, and at this time of year they both make ornaments, melting and shaping glass tubes into hollow spheres. The technique is much like glassblowing with a furnace, but on a smaller scale, working in detail.

A handmade glass ornament glistens at Cheshire Glassworks.
Photo by Kate Abbott

A handmade glass ornament glistens at Cheshire Glassworks.

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