Elke and I have very good imaginations, but some of our excursions turn out to be way better than we imagined. For example, Elke was looking at Groupon a while back when she saw this advertisement.
It sounded interesting, so Elke bought a couple of tickets for us. The Chris Johnson Glass studio is located in Davenport, California, which is a tiny coastal town with a population of maybe 400 people. It is located about 30 minutes north of Santa Cruz. Davenport has exactly three places to eat. There is the Davenport Roadhouse, Whale City Bakery, and La Patrona Taqueria. There is also a wine tasting room, The Slow Coast Wine Bar, which is an outlet for wine from Beauregard Vineyards, an absolutely fabulous winery-amongst-the-giant-redwoods experience, which you can also visit nearby.
Before our Glass adventure, Elke and I had breakfast at the Davenport Roadhouse. The Roadhouse is also a hotel. It has a nice ambiance and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They often have live music.
Elke and I have always enjoyed having their Potato Latkes for breakfast. Unfortunately, they are a breakfast item, and we always seem to have a problem making it to this restaurant before their breakfast service ends. On this day, we were so excited to be here at breakfast, but once again, our dreams were dashed. Since our last visit, the menu changed. Latkes have been eliminated! While their current breakfast options tick all of the basic breakfast boxes, the previous menu was more appealing to us. The food was more upscale and artfully prepared. The latke flavors were really good. We told out waitress how much we loved their latkes. We hope they bring them back.
The Chris Johnson Glass Studio is about 1 minute away from the Davenport Roadhouse. The ancient-looking (for California) buildings are tucked away in a beautiful mini-canyon, with protective hills and the sound of a little stream running in the background. Again, this building is about 2 minutes up the road from the Pacific Coast. The little boy in me wanted to explore every crevice of the grounds for wildlife and hidden treasure.
The studio, itself, seemed to have all the tools that a master glassworker, like Chris, needs to produce art.
Chris Johnson is a wonderful teacher. He encourages you to be hands on, but he also guides you every step of the way. The basic process that Elke used went like this. She selected here dye and glitter colors first.
Then, Elke scooped up a globule of liquid glass from a pool of molten glass. Glass is a great insulator. It has to be heated all night for it to become liquid.
With the glass on the tip of the rod, you constantly have to twirl the rod to keep the molten glass globule centered on the rod. Under the guidance of Chris Johnson, Elke used several tools to shape and manipulate her glass globule.
After Elke formed a nice, clear center globule around the rod, Chris guided Elke to roll her glass globule in the dye sticks.
The dye sticks were heated until they melted into the glass globule. Then, Elke dunked the whole thing back in the pool of molten glass to add another layer. Then, back to the chair to pull and shape and twist.
After a few rounds of this, a colored disc began to form. An interesting sight, which I couldn’t show here, is the sight of molten blue dye. It is both blue and orange at the same time – something that only a glassworker would ever get to see.
More tools and shaping made Elke’s disc into a heart!
The whole experience was so unique and memorable. Chris is such a nice, easy going fellow. As of this writing, I see Groupons still available. Elke and I both give the Chris Johnson experience a thumbs up!