Meet Glassblower Dominique Caissie

Meet Dominique Caissie, a shaper of molten glass. She always keeps her ovens warm. About 2,200 degrees most of the time. She dances, dips and twirls a hollow rod into the fires, tipping it with a clear glob of melted sand. She blows, twists, spins, then repeats the process until that little nugget becomes something delicate and beautiful. At her Terrapin Glassblowing Studio in Jaffrey, Caissie can teach you how to blow your own molten globs into goblets, bowls or even animal shapes to start your own glass menagerie. So, go get hot and blow something up. Then take it home with you.

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Photo by David Mendelsohn

  • I am business partners with my mother, Anne Marie Caissie, allowing for lots of lady power here at the studio.
  • We were both full time before COVID-19 hit, and we fully plan to get back to that point once we get through this mess.
  • Why Terrapin? We love the Grateful Dead, and “Terrapin Station” is an excellent song. We also love turtles, and have been collecting both terrapin and sea turtle objects, prints, T-shirts — anything and everything turtle-related — for years.
  • Accomplishing your goal in the studio is the best feeling in the world — an amazing sort of high. You’re sweaty, dirty, probably a little burnt.
  • There are many, many different types of glass, and they are all used for different purposes. Typically, we use three types of glass in our studio.
  • Oftentimes glass breaks, and that’s OK, try it again!
  • The process begins with a 5-foot iron rod that could either be hollow or solid. Things like flowers, paperweights [and] suncatchers are done on a solid rod, while items like cups, bowls and plates are done on a hollow rod.
  • I open the door to my 2,200-degree furnace and stick the end of the rod into the material, “gathering” the molten glass on the end. This process is very similar to taking a toothpick and trying to get a little ball of honey neatly on the end of it.
  • Try it you can’t drop any honey though, because it’s molten glass.
  • Using a combination of gravity, centrifugal force from the rotations, perhaps a bit of air, and metal tools as an extension of your hand, glass pieces are formed.
  • Yes, we all get burnt in little ways all of the time. Oftentimes it’s not directly from the glass; it’s from the hot, hot metal that is all over the studio.
  • We are very strict about safety in our space. We require that everyone wears properly covering attire, footwear and safety glasses.

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A major part of Terrapin Glassblowing Studio’s business is creating glass memorials for people who have lost loved ones. They take the ashes of people and pets that have passed away and encase them into custom handmade pieces. “It began simply by me doing it for our family after we suffered a loss,” says Caissie, “and now we’ve opened it to help others.” They have a variety of styles and color options on their website for easy ordering. “There is nothing more special to us than giving our grieving customers a tiny bit of peace in their time of loss,” Caissie says. terrapinglass.com/memorials

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