The German Black Forest hides many delightful secrets amidst its thick foliage. In this land of fairy tales and half-timbered houses there is a small glass factory that practices the methods of a bygone era. The Dorotheenhütte glass museum in Wolfach brings yesterday’s traditions to life for today’s visitors.
The Dorotheenhütte, which is known as the only hand-blown glass factory in the Black Forest, guides its guests through 2000 years of glass history. The complex’s museum area shows how the art of glass making has developed over the years, and shows tool and mold artifacts from a long time ago. Masters can be seen making and grinding delicate crystal stems by hand – everyone cuts a carefully calculated combination of angle and pressure.
The Dorotheenhütte also offers its visitors the opportunity to try glass blowing – fascinating and entertaining when you consider that you are rarely invited to “touch” and “try out” fragile objects. Standing near the 2,642-degree fire and molten glass inferno keeps you uncomfortably warm, but it creates a sense of awe of the master who endures this heat for his love of art. Take a deep breath and blow with all your strength as a tiny bubble forms in the glowing formless mass at the other end of a long metal tube. The master lures for more air, more pressure and more strength when your cheeks start to tingle and your face turns bright red. You get a very short pause when you choose different color chips for the blob, which eventually becomes a shapely vase. Master lets you blow into the tube again as he turns and shapes the vase, then flings it almost insanely through the air, wondering how close it is to the ground and the crowd. The glass cools enough to cut it off the tube and the vase has to cool down longer before handling. The glass blowing is absolutely free – just pay a small fee if you want to take your artwork home with you (since the vase needs to cool down first, you have plenty of time to see the rest of the complex).
Dorotheenhüttes ‘Glasparadies’ has the appropriate name because it is really a paradise for buyers. The room sparkles brilliantly, while every perfectly positioned ceiling light sprays bright reflections and colors over everything. Shelves and showcases are packed with finished vases as they are blown in the free workshop, stem sets in all shapes and shades, figures, candle holders, hanging balls that shine like stained glass, and everything else that can be imagined for home decor. ‘Glass Paradise’ leads to the ‘Christmas Village’, which is full of charming seasonal ornaments and decorations all year round. Sparkling lights line the corridors of fluffy snow and delicate objects that are practically full of holiday spirit. Whether a lot or a little money, the experienced employees of Dorotheenhütte gently wrap every find in protective paper to cushion the journey from Wolfach. They also offer international shipping options for those who prefer to pick up their purchases at home. After a day of glass blowing and shopping, visitors can relax in the charming Dorotheenhütte restaurant. Enjoy a delicious German cuisine or just a warm drink and a pastry to recharge your batteries while admiring the traditional wood decor.
The Dorotheenhütte is a unique experience in the Black Forest. Although it seems to be hiding between the dark trees, it greets everyone with its enthusiasm and talent for the fine art of glass making.