At Pust Glas, the joy that comes from blowing glass is all but hot air. Here, Leif Møller Nielsen and Christina Hellevik have set up shop, an art studio and a life together, inviting visitors to experience an ancient craft being blown to life.

In spite of being home to only some 7,000 people, the historic market town of Ebeltoft, with its centuries-old wooden houses and cobblestone streets, offers a number of attractions and explorations of Danish history. The port is home to the world’s largest wooden warship, the 19th-century frigate Jylland, bringing reminiscences of Denmark’s maritime past and former naval strength to thousands of visitors annually. And just a stone’s throw away, art pieces from more than 700 artists from 40 different countries are on display at Glasmuseet, the world’s first museum of glass.

This is also where professional glass blowers Leif Møller Nielsen and Christina Hellevik first met. As graduates from Riksglasskolen, Sweden’s National School of Glass and Scandinavia’s only educational institution for professional glassblowing, they had both come to the museum’s workshop to build their careers in the craft. Leif, a former lighting designer in Copenhagen, fell in love with glassblowing after a spontaneous visit to the school in Sweden. For Norwegian-born Christina, however, her passion for glassblowing is one of her earliest memories. “At age 12, I was asked what I wanted to become when I grew up, and I replied ‘glassblower’,” she reveals.

Today, they share not just a home, but also a livelihood via Pust Glas, a combined shop and glassblower’s studio in the centre of Ebeltoft. According to Leif, roughly 50 independent glass studios are currently in operation in Denmark, and around 200-300 practitioners make up the Danish leg of the global glassblower community. “In many ways, the global glassblowers’ community is similar to the surf culture, and we have friends all over the world,” says Leif. Indeed, for Leif and Christina, glass blowing is not so much a profession as a lifestyle. “Glass blowing has to be the way forward, and even when times get tough, you make it work,” says Christina. Leif agrees: “Glass blowing will always remain in focus, no matter the cost.”

Pust Glas: The Path Ahead is Paved with Glass

Christina and Leif. Photo:

Craftsmanship revived

The practice of glassblowing dates back thousands of years, but spread around the world via the expansion of the Roman Empire. In the 1500s, Italy became an artistic centre for the production of glass, and throughout the 1700s and 1800s, the region of Bohemia led the way with distinctly more robust designs. As industrialisation and new technologies swept across Europe, glass production grew into an industry. As bigger manufacturers took up the market and the production facilities, the craft of glass blowing became geared towards high-volume production rather than artistic expression.

Then in the ‘50s and ‘60s, a movement of Modernist artists in America enabled the sharing of techniques and knowledge among individuals. The opportunity to produce glass in small studios grew steadily, and today, glass blowing has once again become an artistic practice in its own right. The craft even has its own version of Master Chef, the Canadian reality TV show Blown Away, which released its third season on Netflix this year.

Pust Glas: The Path Ahead is Paved with Glass

Left: Nudie.

Not just a job

With Pust, Leif and Christina have created a space for endless artistic exploration. Throughout the year, they blow glass daily on-site, inviting visitors to take a peek through the looking glass and into their world. “Glass is made in the same way today as it was 2,000 years ago,” says Leif. “We give visitors a chance to experience the craft right in front of them, and get really close to an otherwise inaccessible material.”

Combining their individual styles and ideas, Leif and Christina have created a versatile range of joyful glassware ranging from vases and decanters to lamps and jewellery. With a focus on shape, colour and elegance, even mundane objects like onions and eggs are transformed into beautiful art pieces. “Glass, like ceramics, is a three-dimensional craft, but with glass, you are much more in the moment and the final result is instant,” explains Christina. In general, Pust’s pieces are simplistic in style and colour, with the exception of the organically shaped Nudies series, and Leif and Christina’s Kissing Vases.

The passion of Leif and Christina makes stepping into Pust much more than a shopping experience. As artists on-site work with full transparency, their personal expressions melt into their pieces, making way for a truly intimate art experience. “Pust is filled with our personal preferences, with our soul,” says Leif. “That’s what people get when they visit: a small part of us.”

Pust Glas: The Path Ahead is Paved with Glass

Instagram: @pustglas
Facebook: Pustglas
Address: Adelgade 29E, Gården, 8400 Ebeltoft

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