Judson Guérard has been blowing glass in his historic studio in the hamlet of Toecane for more than 25 years. The area is called Toecane because it’s near the confluence of the Toe River and Cane Creek. The two-story brick building was originally a dry goods store. Today it’s Guérard Studios which still features the building’s original plate glass windows, counter tops, shelves, rolling ladder, and pot-bellied stove. The front is still used for product display, much like its past incarnation, now displaying a large assortment of Judson’s glass. The back of the building is home to a modern glass furnace and annealers.
Guérard came to blown glass art via a background in philosophy and aesthetics and his practical bent of wanting to create with his hands. After considering possibilities as disparate as hang gliding and building solar homes, the allure of glass prevailed after a magical glass blowing class in Denver. A few years later, Judson arrived at Penland School of Craft to study glass full time. What started with concentration classes turned into Judson becoming the school’s glass studio coordinator. Once he felt ready to develop his own studio, he and his wife Sally Morgan Guérard, purchased the old store in Toecane.
Visitors can see Judson at work in his hot shop in the cooler months of the year. During the warmer months, he does the “cold” work of polishing and grinding. Much of his work is informed by the natural environment of the Toe River valley and tempered by his earlier study of philosophy. He enjoys making glass accessible to the casual shopper as well as the serious collector. Hand blown glass ornaments, wine glasses, yard ornaments, and sculpture are available for purchase. Visitors can also visit the studio annex affectionately known as the “Broom Closet” where Sally Morgan Guérard crafts brooms, needle felted figures, and dolls.
Hours: Daily 10 am-5 pm