Legacy Glassworks builds LynLake glassblowing studio

Owner Josh Wilken-Simon at the art gallery and tobacco shop Legacy Glassworks.
Owner Josh Wilken-Simon at the art gallery and tobacco shop Legacy Glassworks.

Josh Wilken-Simon started his business with $200, selling his cousin’s glass campsite-to-campsite at music festivals, and eventually banked enough to open a store in Duluth in 2010.

The shop’s new incarnation in Minneapolis has the feel of a gallery, located in the former Tatters storefront at 2928 Lyndale Ave. S. The glass and pipe store features its own glassblowing studio that’s open for people to give the craft a try.

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Legacy works with more than 70 artists, all people Wilken-Simon has met.

“Every single thing in the shop, I can tell you the time I met them and when I got it,” he said.

“This thing right now is the crown jewel,” he said, walking up to an intricate glass-blown arcade game model by Scott Andrews, known in the glass world as Freek. Wilken-Simon said the piece represents more than a month of 40-hour workweeks and a $40,000 value.

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“There’s no reason a piece like this won’t be in an art institute,” he said.

Glass at the store shines under the optimal lighting temperature, with cases alternating between warm and cool light for best effect depending on the glass. One case with UV light highlights glow-in-the-dark ghosts on a Mario-themed pipe made with millefiori layers.

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Aside from pipes and art pieces, the shop sells glassware like beer tap handles, wine toppers and glass cubes.

When the gallery opened in December (offering the biggest discounts to the first few in line) people started lining up at 6 a.m. before the shop opened at 11 a.m. The line to enter remained two hours long into the evening.

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Legacy Glassworks 2Nearly all initial glassblowing classes sold out immediately. Students can make marbles, pendants and wine glasses at introductory, intermediate or one-on-one advanced classes. The shop uses borosilicate glass, which is a poor conductor of heat that allows people to turn the glass as they’re blowing it. A dedicated air exchange and exhaust system handles the fumes.

Guests can rent torch time by the hour or the month.

“We’re really able to make an inaccessible art form accessible to people,” Wilken-Simon said. “It’s a huge investment to get the proper ventilation, tools and kilns.”

He said they don’t use imported glass to avoid businesses that allegedly employ children or provide inadequate ventilation.

Legacy Glassworks is hosting an opening reception for Therd, with special guests Cha, Repo and Groe on Saturday, April 8.

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