Glass blowing studio heats up Village

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CARLSBAD — A new crop of artists is blowing up the Village.

Barrio Glassworks features a number of glass blowers battling heat in excess of 2,000 degrees, melted glass, color schemes and time to create fragile yet colorful pieces of art.

The shop features a gallery of five to six featured artists plus the owners, Mary Devlin, Gary Raskin and their son Drew Raskin, while also incorporating an interactive hot shop where people can watch the blowers at work.

The idea and passion for blowing glass came courtesy of Drew, whose art is also featured in the gallery. Once he took up the art form, Devlin caught the bug, Gary Raskin said. A 2013 vacation to Italy, where they saw glass blowers in Venice, also helped spark her interest.

“She got the bug and there is definitely no question about her glass blowing passion,” Gary said. “She came to me and said, ‘You know our retirement plan that we had? We have a new one now.’ And here we are.”

Glass blower Logan Groupé works April 27 at Barrio Glassworks on Roosevelt Street in Carlsbad Village. Blowers work with hot glass and extreme temperatures to create vibrant and delicate pieces of art. Photo by Steve Puterski

Before Carlsbad, however, the family was living in Los Angeles and commuting to Seattle to learn the trade. Seattle has a bustling glass blowing community, Devlin said, and it was cheaper to commute than to take lessons in L.A.

When Drew Raskin went to a college with a glass art program, Devlin and Gary Raskin started planting seeds to open their own hot shop.

Several years later, the family moved to Carlsbad and began looking for locations to open a shop. They found their spot at 3060 Roosevelt St. across from Pizza Port, although it was housing vape and skate shops.

After a controversial Planning Commission meeting in 2018 and appeal from the skate shop, the owner of the building was approved to install the art studio. Devlin and Gary Raskin then began on construction to add space, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regardless, the end product was a 2,800-square-foot building with three massive, and hot, kilns used to create glass art.

The studio opened Dec. 5, 2020, just days before the second stay-at-home order, although the shop could have limited capacity, Devlin said. The limited capacity, she said, allowed the family to work out the gaps in their business and to build up.

In addition to selling artwork in the gallery, the family rents out bench space to several blowers for additional revenue.

One aspect Devlin insisted on was an open area that would allow customers and passersby to watch the blowers at work to capitalize on foot traffic in the area. In addition, the family has organized tours for the kids at the Boys & Girls Club of Carlsbad and is planning for more events and interactions with students and other groups.

While San Diego has a limited glass blowing community, the couple said they’ve noticed that it is developing more of a following thanks to the Netflix show, “Blown Away,” which is a competition show involving glass blowers.

Also, the studio and its artists were featured in April by the Carlsbad Village Association’s pop-up tent event.

“The Netflix series … it’s the best advertisement for us ever,” Devlin said.

Barrio Glassworks is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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