Let the Glass Flow in Sussex

A furnace sits in a large barn- like building on Route 24 near Lewes. Inside the furnace the temperature is 2050 degrees and a crucible, a large cauldron or bowl, sits on top of two bricks filled with liquefied glass.

A pipe is dipped into the crucible and a small liquid glob is extracted.

In due time, the glob of glass will be transformed into a solid, colorful and functional piece through the art of blowing glass.

The process of blowing glass dates back to Egyptian and Mesopotamian times. Four days a week Deb Appleby, the owner of The Studio on 24, and her teammates Eynon Rowland and Jen Alonso can be found practicing this accent process.

On Thursday, July 20, the crew was hard at work.

"We're pullin' what's called murrini," Appleby said.

The process entails pulling long pieces of glass which are cut and then fused together.

Once the pieces of glass are cut into square shapes, they are arranged on a steel plate like a mosaic. The glass squares are heated and fused together in a sheet. The sheet is then rolled into a cylinder shape and closed off at the bottom. Another layer of glass is put over top and it is blown out to the desired shape.

Appleby will create a series of 14 murrinis in 14 different colors patterns for the year.

But murrinis aren't the only things Appleby and her team makes out of glass. She also creates pitchers, sinks, plates, drinking glasses, spin bowls, votives and light fixtures.

"We make one of a kind pieces that are functional and usable for a reasonable price," Appleby said.

Appleby has honed her glass blowing skills over the past ten years by traveling throughout the United States and Europe.

She used to own a clothing store in Rehoboth Beach where she sold clothing and jewelry. During that time, things were changing. The outlets were about to move into the area and there were already a lot of clothing stores in town.

One weekend, Appleby went to New York on a buying trip for her store. While there, a new opportunity presented itself when she came across a weekend glass blowing class.

"Times were changing. My personal life was changing," she said. "It just happened. I saw the class and I took it."

From there things progressed for Appleby. After the New York class, she decided to attend the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina where she began her training.

"I learned two years worth of glass blowing in eight weeks," she said. "I worked for whoever and everybody."

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