Five blown glass pieces resting on a table part of A Longwood Christmas.

Beautiful Art, Beautiful Impact

By Katie Mobley, on

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. 

A pink and purple lit and decorated Christmas tree inside a circular bar.

The Music Room’s large octagonal bar features a variety of pieces from GoggleWorks Center for the Arts and Burning Branch Studio. Photo by Becca Mathias.

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. 

A person kneeling down examining a blown glass pitcher.

GoggleWorks Hot Glass Studio Manager and glass artist Scott Krenitsky works on a pitcher, now on display in our Music Room. Photo provided by GoggleWorks Center for the Arts.

An octagonal bar with blown glass drinkware on top among decorated Christmas trees.

A selection of pieces by Scott Krenitsky in our Music Room display, including the finished pitcher on the far left. Photo by Becca Mathias.

A glass pitcher with blown glass white flowers on it sitting atop a bar.

Glass artist Daniel Alters from Berks County, PA often incorporates forms of floral and fauna in his work, including the orchid pitcher and martini glasses crafted for the Music Room display; the stemware set was inspired by Longwood’s renowned orchid collection. Photo by Laurie Carrozzino.

“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 person in black ear protectors working on a large glass lime wedge.

Glass artist Steve Hagan creates one of the four citrus fruit segments on display in the Music Room. Photo provided by GoggleWorks Center for the Arts.

A glass lime wedge resting in an empty margarita glass.

A close view of one of Steve Hagan’s citrus slices atop the Music Room bar. Photo by Carol Gross.

An empty martini glass with a glass olive on a toothpick resting in the glass.

GoggleWorks Warm Glass and Fused Glass Technician Nikki Vitchner created four olives with sticks for the display, starting her creating process with a sketch and going through a few iterations before achieving the right look. Sometimes glass requires a little bit of play at first,” shares Vitchner. Photo by Carol Gross.

A holiday bar scene with hand-blown glass drinkware on top of the bar.

Glass artist Jake Pfeifer—who has been blowing glass since he was 14 years old— created four wine goblets with colored stems, shown here along with Daniel Alters’ orchid pieces. As with all his work, Pfeifer’s “vision for each piece encompasses an understanding of the properties and movement of glass and application of color. Photo by Laurie Carrozzino.

Hand-blown glass drinkware sitting atop a bar.

Glass artist Peter Tiebohl, who has been blowing glass for more than five years, created two margarita glasses for the display. “For me, it all started at GoggleWorks, discovering glass blowing through a make-your-own workshop,” he shares. “Making goblets is difficult, and it was great to get a chance to further refine my skills in working on this project. Goblet making is a quick, fluid process that produces a finished result in a rather short time of 15 to 45 minutes. It takes years of practice to be able to produce them at a high quality.” Photo by Carol Gross.

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. 


Two images of a person working in a glass blowing studio.

Burning Branch Studio owner Rachael Calderin crafts a tree in her studio. Photos provided by Rachael Calderin.

Glass blown whimsical trees and candy dishes displayed on a table top.

A beautiful selection of Calderin’s vibrant trees and candy dishes on display in the Music Room. Photo by Becca Mathias.

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.” 

Pink and green glass-blown drinkware displayed on a table in a holiday party setting.

A selection of Calderin’s pieces are shown here, to the right and behind our retro sofa. Photo by Becca Mathias.

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.

An old-fashioned glass blown gelatin mold in our Music Room display

Calderin’s old-fashioned gelatin mold in our Music Room display. Photo by Becca Mathias.

A glass blown botanical leaf on display in the Music Room at Longwood Gardens.

One of Calderin’s botanical leaves seems to beckon further exploration into the Music Room. Photo by Carol Gross.

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.

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