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Glassybaby Goodness

by Rebecca Sweet

Having three good friends and two of my favorite clients going through various stages of cancer right now, I’m particularly aware of kindhearted people and companies who are making an effort to help others.  Which is why I’ve become a huge fan of Glassybaby.

While very well-known throughout Seattle (seen on the tables of at least half of the restaurants I visited, and on countless windowsills everywhere) these little candleholders are making their way throughout the entire country. And I’m honored to add a few to my own windowsill.While recently visiting Seattle, I was lucky enough to tour this sweet little glassblowing shop and to find out a little more behind it’s history.  It began in 1998 by Lee Rhodes, a mother with three small children, who was undergoing treatment for a rare form of lung cancer. At her suggestion, her husband was taking glass blowing lessons as a welcome distraction from the ever-present emotional stress.  After bringing home a small glass cup he had made, and dropping a tea light candle into it, inspiration hit.  The effect of the light was so peaceful and healing he began to make more of the candle holders.  Soon Lee’s friends began asking for them, and history was born.

While undergoing chemotherapy and spending so much time in the hospital, Lee befriended some of the other patients who were also going through similar struggles.  Only they had additional problems besides the cancer – finances.  Some would miss their chemo appointments for reasons as simple as they were unable to find transportation to the hospital or to find someone to care for their children.

Lee never forgot these women.After her cancer went into remission, she started her business selling these candleholders, naming it Glassybaby.

And to help patients like the ones she had met, her goal was to donate 10% of all revenue to a charity benefiting cancer care for those with little or no insurance.

I was particularly struck by this poster hanging on a wall.  Their original 10% donation has now grown to over a million dollars given away to various charities.

I can only imagine the pride Lee and others who work at this company must feel, knowing how much they have helped their community.  In addition to the original charity, each season a new charity is chosen to correspond with a specific candle color.

You can this most the impressive list here.One side of the small shop is a giant glass wall where everyone gathers to watch the candle holders being made.

It’s mesmerizing watching the glassblowers hard at work, dancing their own version of a choreographed ballet as they deftly move from one stage of the process to another.They sum it up best:

It takes 4 glass artists, 3 layers of molten glass, and 2 thousand degrees to make just 1 Glassybaby.Choosing a color was just about impossible, but after deliberating for what seemed forever, I finally decided on ‘Frog Hunting’ (love the names, too!)Am I happy with my choice?  Absolutely!

And now I’m looking around my house at all my other empty windowsills and the wheels are turning….

{ 17 comments }

Layanee November 3, 2013 at 5:23 am

I have a lovely photo of your windowsill. It reminds me of the warm hospitality of you and all of the wonderful gardeners I met in the SF area this past summer. Warm memories and lovely photos.

Rebecca Sweet November 3, 2013 at 7:20 am

Hi Layanee – thank you for such a sweet comment! I had such a fantastic time, as well, despite the suffocating heatwave (which melted my candles, no doubt!) I have great memories of Annie’s Annuals, too. ;)

Candice Suter November 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Those colors are incredible and love the story. I need to get some!

Mary Ann March 3, 2013 at 11:53 am

Rebecca,

I fell in love with Glassybaby glasses at Lorene’s home in SEA. Then I noticed Debra had them. Then Debra sent me one. Then, we had Garden Bloggers’ Fling in Seattle and I had driven over. I bought several. Every time I get a chance, I get another one. And such a good story, and so many good causes. A little light in our lives.

Rebecca Sweet March 3, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Yes indeed, Mary Ann, a little light in our lives! When you visit in a few weeks, I’ll see if you can find the ones that I have sprinkled throughout my home! :)

Susy February 28, 2013 at 10:28 am

Having lost both family members and beloved friends to this dreaded disease as well as having friends dealing with it now, I am always on the lookout for little ways to help. These beautiful little glasses are such a delight and the story behind them is heartwarming! Thank you for sharing.

Rebecca Sweet February 28, 2013 at 11:05 pm

I’m so sorry for your losses, Susy. It seems we’re all touched in some way or another by the devastation of cancer and I agree – any little way to help is always nice to know about!

Charlie@Seattle Trekker February 27, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Inspiring and touching. People are so amazing. In our darkest moments is when we are truly at our best. Thank you so much for sharing.

Rebecca Sweet February 28, 2013 at 7:41 am

You’re so right, Charlie. It’s a pretty great company and I’m so glad to have found them! Every time I look at my own Glassbabies on the windowsill it warms my heart just a little bit more….

Lynn February 25, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Wonderful post Rebecca, love the beautiful glass cups in the window.

Rebecca Sweet February 25, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Thank you, Lynn. They’re even more beautiful in person (and when lit!)

www.sharonlovejoy.com February 25, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Hi dear Rebecca,

GOOD FOR GLASSBABY! Isn’t it amazing how one devoted person can help to change the world for the better?

Jeff and I loved sitting with you, Susan, and others last Thursday. FUN! We still may make it up your way if Jeff feels like turning around and driving home that night.

Sending love,

S

Rebecca Sweet February 25, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Yes, Sharon, inspiration at its finest!! We had SO much fun with you both and treasured every moment that night. I’ll keep my fingers that Jeff has a burst of energy that day and feels like driving! You know the party won’t be the same without you two!!!

Barbara H. February 25, 2013 at 9:38 am

Loved this post! I had not heard of these, so I will have to keep them in mind. I think they would make great gifts for my friends.

Rebecca Sweet February 25, 2013 at 6:10 pm

I agree, Barbara, and now have all sorts of people in mind who might like a Glassybaby or two….

Loree / danger garden February 24, 2013 at 11:46 am

Looks like to me it takes “4 glass artists, 3 layers of molten glass, and 2 thousand degrees” plus one dog to supervise “to make just 1 Glassybaby”…great post Rebecca, I’ve seen those beautiful glass cups around Portland but never known the story behind them. I will definitely look at them differently next time I see them.

(it was great to meet you at the NWFGS!)

Rebecca Sweet February 24, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Ha – great observation, Loree! As I recall the dog’s name was Columbus and he loved hanging out with his owner (who was busy blowing glass). It was fantastic meeting you, too. Look forward to seeing you again in June at the Fling!

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