Hit Finland’s glassblowing trail

Hit Finland’s glassblowing trail

Finnish designers have been creating modern marvels with molten sand since the 1950s. Among the top spots to see contemporary glassblowers in action are Fiskars and Nuutajärvi, two creative hubs on Finland’s glass trail.


Blown away

Fiskars is a postcardesque ironworks village, roughly one hour’s drive west of Helsinki. When Fiskars Corporation – makers of those iconic orange-­handled scissors – relocated elsewhere in the 1980s, the vacant historic buildings were filled by a lively community of artisans and designers. Today the village is populated by shops and studios selling glassware and cool industrial design, including the Sirius Gallery and Onoma Cooperative. Glassblowers can be seen plying their trade at the Bianco Blu Glass Studio run by Tarmo Maaronen, a master glassblower who has worked with legends such as Kaj Franck and Oiva Toikka. Visitors can fashion their own glass objects in one-hour glassblowing workshops taught by Maaronen for €36 per person.

Glass act

Dating from 1793, Nuutajärvi Glass Village is Finland’s largest community of independent glass designers and glassblowers. The scenic village is home to Finland’s oldest glass factory, which currently houses freelance workspaces open to the public in summer. The local artists’ cooperative handles the sale of glass art from its gallery. Famous designers based in the village include Anu Penttinen, whose eye-popping designs have a distinctly urban feel – despite her serene rural setting. “I love the quiet yet passionate quality of our village. It’s a great place to work alongside like-minded colleagues tackling the same challenging material,” says Penttinen, who hand-blows her own designs in a large hotshop shared by local artisans. “Since Iittala moved its production away, we independent glassmakers have basically been running the village.”

Text Silja Kudel Photo Ilkka Ernin and Nuutajärvi