Watch It Made Blog

Visiting Cape Cod? Check Out This Hidden Gem: Sydenstricker Glass, Brewster, Massachusetts

After a snow-banked winter, I decided to go to Cape Cod for a couple of days. Stopping at the tourist booth along the way, I found a unique place you might like to visit: Sydenstricker Glass (490 Main Street, Brewster, Massachusetts, 508-385-3272).

After driving to Brewster along curvaceous Cape Cod roads, I walked down a brick path behind the Sydenstricker Glass gallery to the workshop, which you can visit. Bill Sydenstricker founded the company during the 1960s. Through his research on early Egyptian art while a student at MIT, Mr. Sydenstricker developed the unique glass craft practiced here.

Tom has been at Sydenstricker for 39 years and Jenn for 17 years. They work in a glass-enclosed area with filters to prevent them from breathing in powdered glass. Starting with clear glass sheets, each artisan places a manila-folder stencil on top of the glass.

An artisan works on the glass.

The glass designs require stencils: anywhere from two to seventeen. A new sunflower pattern, for example, requires six stencils. The first three stencils require mostly yellow, orange, and red glass powder forming the flower petals. The top three layers of stencils form the green leaves. Through a small sieve, each color of powdered glass is tapped with a well-worn spoon onto its designated stencil. Each stencil layer must be removed carefully to not ruin the pattern. Once the pattern is complete, excess powdered glass is removed with a flat razorblade. Another clear glass square is placed on top to start a new glass plate design.

Pairs of glass sheets fuse in the kiln, where they are fired for five hours at 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. They conform to the shapes of the molds. The glass then cools in the kiln for 40 hours. The cost of each plate depends on the amount of kiln space it requires.

The result is unique and highly sought-after. United States presidents, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Pope own Sydenstricker glass! Popular Sydenstricker patterns include hydrangeas (four stencils) and blueberries (seven stencils). The company's first paper pattern is The White Daisy. The Embassy, the company's first geometric pattern, is thus named because the patterned plates grace many embassies around the United States.

Posted By Karen Axelrod May 23, 2019