This year’s spectacular A Longwood Christmas display is a vivid celebration of all things fab, festive, and retro—and our Music Room, decked out for a retro holiday party, is no exception. This throwback living room scene shines with mid-century modern furniture, a festive champagne tinsel tree, an octagonal bar crafted in-house, and so much more. A party wouldn’t be complete without fabulous glassware—and in the Music Room we’re proudly showcasing fantastic glass trees, candy dishes, and more crafted by two local nonprofit organizations—GoggleWorks Center for the Arts (Reading, PA) and Burning Branch Studio (Kirkwood, PA). These organizations not only create stunningly beautiful works of art (as you’ll see in our Music Room), but make stunningly beautiful impacts in the community through their respective work.
Transforming lives through unique interactions with art, GoggleWorks Center for the Arts is a place to develop skills, ask questions, experiment freely, and investigate the human spirit. Boasting deep roots in the Reading community, GoggleWorks was initially constructed in 1871 as the Willson Goggle Factory before it was renovated and reopened in 2005 as one of the largest interactive art centers of its kind in the country. The 145,000-square-foot campus serves as a regional hub for creative culture, with teaching studios in ceramics, glass, jewelry, photography, woodworking, and printmaking, along with exhibition galleries, studios, a theater, and urban gardens to battle food insecurity. A variety of classes and workshops are designed for aspiring, emerging, and established artists.
GoggleWorks also engages in a variety of community programs, including an after-school arts program, summer residencies, fellowships, scholarships, and community education opportunities—and continually seeks opportunities to engage with the wider community. “Art is all about building community,” shares GoggleWorks Center for the Arts President and CEO Levi Landis. “Helping artists think innovatively gets others excited about art and community. As a result, art can be a vehicle for greater social change.”
The Music Room display features retro-inspired glass pieces crafted by six GoggleWorks glass artists: Scott Krenitsky, Daniel Alters, Steve Hagan, Nikki Vitchner, Jake Pfeifer, and Peter Tiebohl. GoggleWorks Hot Glass Studio Manager and glass artist Scott Krenitsky, for one, crafted the fantastic punch bowl and juice cups; pitcher and 12 Collins glasses; and two Champagne flutes in the Music Room. “Having the opportunity to turn Longwood’s vision into reality was an amazing process and experience for us,” shares Krenitsky, who crafts everything from functional vessels to exotic sculptural forms.
“Glass artist, foodie, and proponent of pure beauty” Steve Hagan crafted four citrus fruit segments for the display. A Philadelphia native, Hagan now resides in Tucson where he runs a private glass studio and often creates citrus-inspired sculpture. Crafting the four citrus fruit segments required three separate steps in the hotshop and coldshop; the first step included creating the initial canes by taking 2100-degree Fahrenheit clear glass and colored glass and stretching to lengths of 50 to 60 feet.
A nonprofit co-op in Kirkwood, Burning Branch Studio exists to help learn, grow, and heal through the arts—a mission that founder Rachael Calderin fulfills beautifully. Burning Branch’s funds go to starting and supporting alternative art therapy programs in local substance abuse recovery houses—and the studio is used as means of therapy, where newly recovering people can create and build social and verbal communication. The studio also serves as a teaching tool for a new trade, skill, or hobby to help replace unhealthy behaviors, all while using the medium of glass as another form of communicating thoughts, feelings, and ideas. The studio offers private glassblowing classes for anyone interested in learning.
To Calderin—a former graphic designer who “fell in love” when she first walked into a glassblowing studio at Tyler School of Art, where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in glass—blowing glass is her passion and her personal art therapy. “Being in recovery myself, I find my work to be an essential part of my path to growth and healing,” she shares. Calderin is deeply influenced by floral and fauna in her work—an influence that shines through by way of her art’s organic lines and shapes. Growing up in North Philadelphia, Calderin shares she “didn’t have much connection to nature, but when I would go to more rural Bucks County to see my grandmother, it was magical. I think about that influence a lot when I work; how perfect and imperfect the natural world is, but how it always brings me a sense of calm.”
The Music Room display features approximately 30 pieces from Burning Branch Studio that all “bring back the old with a twist of modern,” as Calderin shares. Those pieces include candy and serving dishes, unique glassware, large botanical leaves, whimsical trees, and ornaments of varying sizes. Calderin has also created a three-tiered, old-fashioned gelatin mold decorated with fruit slices, as well as fruitcake loaf slices. Calderin began working on the pieces in early spring 2023 along with her assistant Joe Leaman—and we’re so pleased to have them on display in our Music Room.
We’re delighted to share not only this beautiful work and boundless talent from these inspiring organizations, but the breadth of impact each has in their community. These stunning pieces from GoggleWorks Center for the Arts and Burning Branch Studio are on display, along with our entire retro holiday party Music Room scene, throughout A Longwood Christmas.