CLAYTON, Ind. (Aug. 28, 2015) — This morning “Your Town Friday” is heading to Clayton! You’ll find the small Hendricks County town about 22 miles southwest of downtown Indy.
“This isn’t something everybody can do and I want people to see what a challenge it is. It’s exciting to get in there and get used to the heat and learn how to work with the glass,” said Lisa Pelo, owner of Hot Blown Glass in Clayton.
She’s been doing hot blown glass for years. At her indoor/outdoor studio workshop in Clayton, she does both metal and glass work.
“We have a furnace that holds 270 pounds of glass. It runs 24/7 at 2150 Fahrenheit degrees. You’ll see me get a blow pipe, go into the glass, pick up some clear and add some color applications. What I’m really doing is blowing it up slowly, like I’m filling a balloon in slow motion, and I’m telling it to be a certain shape as it fills up and I put air down the blow pipe,” said Lisa.
It’s quite neat to see the hot glass blowing process! It doesn’t look like much in the beginning, but what Lisa is making is actually a cobalt blue and white bowl.
“As I get farther along, I’m in my head telling this form what I want it to be as I’m creating it so that as I flip it around in the transfer process, which is me taking the piece of the blow pipe and finishing the piece from the opposite end, which is what you’ll see and then it’ll open up and be a vessel,” said Lisa.
Lisa’s work is sold in area shops but she’ll also do custom work for individuals and businesses.
“I do make sets of plates and bowls and I can do it in quite a range of price points. If they come out and say I have $200, I’ll show you what I can do in that price point. If you say I only have $50, I can accommodate that too. But if a company comes to me and says decorate that wall, I can fill that whole thing with glass and metal,” said Lisa.
And she teaches as well!
“I host group tours and hands-on sessions. I take my hot shop mobile trailer, it’s portable and people hire me out into their venues, and I take people like Clayton, and a couple other glass blowers with me and we do hands on demonstrations on site. It takes 5,10, 20, 25 years to develop a skill to put that knockout piece on the market, so to come out and watch it and appreciate it and see how much work it takes to develop the skill level to even get out there and show – I want people to appreciate that,” said Lisa.
“We have 65 acres on our part, all farming, no neighbors too close, all full of old trees and atmosphere, we have clean air, we own the property and we don’t hire a lot of people to help us so our prices are very reasonable. People can come out and make a lot of noise. It’s a very relaxing atmosphere,” said Jo Ann Rifkin, co-owner of Martha’s Orchard.
This parcel of land in Clayton has been in Jo Ann Rifkin’s family since the 1820’s. It’s known as Martha’s Orchard. Jo Ann and her husband took over the orchard in the 80s….they did apples for quite some time….until they decided to do something different with their land and the barn.
“We removed the apple equipment and decorated the barn up, we put some windows in, did some landscaping and we’re just booked a lot,” said Jo Ann.
Martha’s Orchard is now a beautiful indoor/outdoor event space.
“We have the big barn which is a 5,000 sq. ft. building for receptions, most of our weddings though are outside underneath the apple trees or we have walnut trees, so you can get married in 2 different places. We have a tea room where we can do rehearsal dinners, baby showers, red hat groups, family reunions and anniversary parties. It holds about 65, it’s carpeted and I don’t let people bring their own food into the tea room but in the barn you can bring your own food in. We’ve had people get married on tractors or on horses; we’ve also had fireworks. They can do a lot here you can’t do in town. As long as people can’t get hurt, we let people do what they would like, as long as it’s safe,” said Jo Ann.
You can also book the orchard for bonfires and hay rides for a group as small as 10 people.
“They bring food and we provide the wagons and the wood to start the fire. It’s a nice fun evening. We run it continuously so it’s not just one hay ride, we keep the wagon running all night long and the kids can jump on when they want and we keep it in the orchard; it’s not on the public streets so it’s safe.”