A glass studio and gallery might not seem like the most kid-friendly destination - what with all of the potential for things getting shattered. But Cedar Creek Gallery just north of Raleigh has plenty for kids to see, experience and learn about.
The Creedmoor shop and gallery will hold its 47th annual spring pottery and glass festival this weekend and next weekend. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday and April 11 and April 12. During the festivals, visitors can see glass artists and potters at work inside studios and out on the lawn of the rustic, tree-filled complex; buy plants; and browse the shop, which holds pieces made by artists from around North Carolina and the United States.
Harrison Harper, a glass artist and dad who I featured in Go Ask Mom's Made by Mom and Dad Gift Guide last year, does his work at Cedar Creek and let me know about the festival.
Harper tells me that he loves to share his craft with the public, especially kids. He didn't see glass blowing until he was a teenager. It's likely he would have ventured out a little more in art if he'd seen all of the possibilities at a younger age, he said.
Now, he said, "it's a lifestyle all of a sudden."
Artists Sid and Pat Oakley opened Cedar Creek in 1968 in an old tobacco field, according to the gallery's website, and have made a mark in the arts community of North Carolina. Today, their daughter Lisa, a glass blower, operates the complex, which is a winner of the Governor's Award for Excellence. The work of Sid Oakley, who died in 2004, sits in major museums and is part of corporate and private collections.
Visitors to Cedar Creek often get a chance to see glass artists or potters at work. Harper, along with fellow glass artist Matt Decker, tell me that somebody is in the studios about 75 percent of the time, though they often take a break during the heat of the summer. Visitors can always call ahead to see if artists are in the studio.
My girls and I watched Harper and Decker at work last week. It's a hot, intense process with little room for error. Decker helped out and talked us through the process as Harper shaped, blew and turned a lump of red hot molten glass into a colorful, decorative fish.
The two worked quickly as Harper pulled the piece in and out of a 2,300 degree reheating unit to quickly shape it. Decker came with lumps of molten glass, which Harper attached to the main piece to form fins and lips.
Visitors can see the whole process up close. My girls were riveted as Harper and Decker did their work - even as the first piece shattered, a common scene in a glass blowing studio.
Decker joked that glass artists calls those "floor models." Said Harper of his craft: "It's very unforgiving."
Watch the quick interview with Harper to see more about the process.
Cedar Creek Gallery is 1150 Fleming Rd., Creedmoor, near the corner of Wake, Durham and Granville counties.