The Ritz-Carlton, Naples Offers Glass Blowing Experience

The hands-on class is offered through April.

BY January 27, 2016


If there ever were an art form that seemed inaccessible and intimidating, it’s glass blowing, right?

Since early December, The Ritz-Cartlon, Naples has been turning that notion on its head. Three days a week through April, fine artist Conrad Williams—born and raised in Naples and trained by the famous Dale Chihuly—offers an approachable glass-blowing experience at the resort for people age 6 and up.

“I think the biggest thing that people ask me when they call or when I chat with them is if they need experience,” Williams says. “And they don't. It’s something where someone can walk up and they've never tried it before and get a really good hands-on opportunity.”

Better yet, Williams’ motorized equipment on wheels allows the class to be held poolside. Participants are guaranteed to make their own pieces—either a sun-catcher ornament or a bowl—with their own breath, though Williams will help at any point. He coaches on breathing pressure with practice tubes and explains the rest of the process step by step before beginning. Crafters are encouraged to spend as much time as they’d like choosing and arranging their colors and pattern, which is then transferred to the glass, but the class is scheduled to take two hours with the actual process of shaping the glass averaging 10 to 15 minutes. Pieces are cooled, packaged and ready to be picked up the next day.

“There’s something very special about introducing the material to people who have never done it before,” Williams says. “The excitement its, for lack of a better adjective, magical.”

Williams taught the class to the corporate team at The Ritz for three years prior, and its popularity led the resort to extend the offering to guests and the public. As opposed to his clients in Oregon and Washington, where he spends the summer blowing glass for more conducive weather, Williams finds most participants in Southwest Florida like to make their pieces more transparent and translucent because of where they’ll ultimately be displayed.

“I attribute that to the amount of sunshine here,” he says.

The class, held Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through April, is open to guests of the hotel as well as locals. Walk-ins are accepted and should head to Conrad’s poolside setup across from the pool shop, but reservations are strongly recommended; call (844) 850-3839 to set up a time.

Sun catcher ornaments are $99 to make and bowls are $199. 

Related Images: