New glassblowing classes the 'hottest thing in Steamboat' at over 2,000 degrees | SteamboatToday.com

New glassblowing classes the ‘hottest thing in Steamboat’ at over 2,000 degrees

Kirk Whitten uses a blowpipe to create a pint glass at Solar Flare Glasswork & Design, which recently opened in Old Town Square. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Business owners Caitlin and Kirk Whitten are hoping to bring their own artistic flair to Old Town Square in downtown Steamboat Springs with their new business, Solar Flare Glasswork & Design.

"We are literally the hottest thing in Steamboat," Kirk jokes while standing just a few feet from a furnace where molten glass is heated to 2,130 degrees, allowing the couple to create unique pieces of art that fill the gallery.

The Whittens moved to Steamboat from southern Colorado about six months ago and opened the shop Nov. 23. The shop features a gallery with the couple's art and a bar where visitors can sit and watch the art being created.

On display are Caitlin's paperweights and Kirk's hot air balloons along with many other items. The art often blends metal and glass, and the couple joins forces to create beautiful hand-crafted pumpkins.

Caitlin also takes prides in creating memorial weights, which are glass urns. The ashes are encased in the glass for families who want to create something special to remember a loved one.

The shop also offers classes for those 12 and older to learn and practice the age-old art of blowing glass.

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"We knew we wanted to offer glassblowing because it's almost like a spectator sport," Caitlin said. "So, we built the space to have a gallery up front to show all of our own glass and sculptures. We also have the element where you can watch us blow glass. But it's also a place where you can come and learn how to do it. You can learn how to blow glass if you like."

Classes include Walk-in and Create for $35, Intro to Glassblowing for $99, the Beer Glass or Stemless Wine Glass class for $125 including a free drink, a three-hour glassblowing class for $225 and the three-week Friday Fusion class for $225.

Caitlin said people interested in the classes should call 970-875-3420 or book at SolarFlareFineArt.com to reserve a time. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Glassblower Kirk Whitten pulls a red-hot pint glass out of the furnace at the new Solar Flare Glasswork & Design, which opened in downtown Steamboat Springs in late November. (Photo by John F. Russell)
Kirk Whitten creates a pint glass at Solar Flare Glasswork & Design, the business he opened with his wife, Caitlin, in Old Town Square in late November. (Photo by John F. Russell)
Kirk Whitten creates a pint glass in the recently opened Solar Flare Glasswork & Design. (Photo by John F. Russell)

The Whittens learned glassblowing when they attended Adams State University in Alamosa, sparking a love that has continued to grow more than 10 years later. The couple traveled to Oregon to study the art and has spent the past nine years traveling across the country and selling their wares at balloon festivals, including ne in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the balloon rodeo here in Steamboat.

"We were working out of our home in southern Colorado," said Caitlin, who holds a fine arts degree in sculpture and the lost wax practice. "For three years, we traveled around and just did the balloon festivals, and it was the balloon rodeo that helped us find Steamboat."

While the Whittens enjoyed traveling around to festivals, they said it didn't allow them to create their art in front of people because it was impossible to take the equipment that Kirk, who studied machining and welding and became a master electrician, built himself.

The couple decided to put down roots and become a part of a community where they could raise their 6-year-old.

"We fell in love with Steamboat," Caitlin said. "This has been our dream and our goal for a decade, and we finally made it."

Caitlin and Kirk Whitten at their new business, Solar Flare Glasswork & Design. (Photo by John F. Russell)

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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