Dorotheenhütte: Hidden Gem of the Black Forest
Germany’s Black Forest hides many delightful secrets amid its thick foliage. In this land of fairytales and half-timbered houses lies a little glass factory, practicing the methods of a time long past. Located in the town of Wolfach, the Dorotheenhütte Glass Museum brings the traditions of yesterday alive for today’s visitors.
Proudly known as the ‘Black Forest’s only hand-blown glass factory’, Dorotheenhütte walks its guests through 2,000 years of glass history. The museum section of the complex shows how the art of glass-making has evolved over the years as well as displays tool and mold artifacts from long ago. Masters can be observed creating and grinding delicate crystal stemware by hand - each cut a carefully calculated combination of angle and pressure.
Dorotheenhütte also gives their visitors the opportunity to try their hand at glass blowing – fascinating and fun when considering one rarely gets the invitation to ‘touch’ and ‘try it out’ when fragile objects are concerned. Standing near the 2,642 degree inferno of fire and molten glass leaves one uncomfortably warm, yet it develops a sense of awe for the master who endures this heat for his love of the art. Take a deep breath and blow with all your might as a tiny bubble forms in the glowing shapeless mass at the other end of a long metal tube. The master coaxes for more air, more pressure, more strength as your cheeks start to tingle and your face turns bright red. You get a very short break as you pick out different color chips for the blob that will eventually become a shapely vase. The master has you blow into the tube again as he twists and shapes the vase then flings it almost madly through the air as you wonder how close he’s getting to the floor and the crowd. The glass cools enough to cut it off the tube and the vase must cool longer before being handled. The glass blowing workshop is absolutely free – only pay a nominal fee if you want to take your work of art home with you (since the vase must cool first, this give you plenty of time to peruse the rest of the complex).
Dorotheenhütte’s ‘Glass Paradise’ is appropriately named as it is truly a heaven for shoppers. The room brilliantly sparkles as each overhead light, perfectly positioned, splashes bright reflections and color over everything. Shelves and display tables are stocked full of finished vases, such as those blown in the free workshop, sets of stemware of all shapes and shades, figurines, candleholders, hanging balls that shine like stained glass, and anything else imaginable for home décor. ‘Glass Paradise’ leads into ‘Christmas Village’, full of enchanting seasonal ornaments and decorations throughout the entire year. Twinkling lights border the aisles of fluffy snow and delicate items that are practically bursting with holiday spirit. Whether spending a lot or a little, Dorotheenhütte’s experienced staff gently packs each find in protective paper to cushion its journey from Wolfach. They also offer international shipping options for those who would rather have their purchases meet them at home. Finally, after a day of blowing glass and shopping, visitors can relax in Dorotheenhütte’s charming restaurant. Have a full meal of delicious German cuisine or simply a warm drink and a pastry to reenergize as you admire the traditional wood décor.
Dorotheenhütte is a one-of-a-kind experience in the Black Forest region of Germany. Although it seems to be hiding among the dark trees, it welcomes each person with its enthusiasm and talent for the beautiful art of glassmaking.