Some time ago, someone in one of the local Facebook groups alerted me to Dorotheenhütte, a glass museum and store in Wolfach, Germany. Prior to today, I had been wanting to visit there for months. We finally decided to go this weekend, when we realized we were finally going to have sunny skies!
Wolfach is a resort town in the Black Forest. It takes a little over an hour for us to get there from Unterjettingen via B28, which is definitely the slower, scenic route. If you’re coming from points north, you may want to use A81, as it’s faster and less icy after a good snow. Apparently, our area got a lot of snow last weekend and a lot of it still hasn’t melted. There’s still a lot of white stuff in the Jettingen area, but there was even more snow west of us in Freudenstadt. We decided to take the scenic route anyway, and were treated to some stunning views of snow capped mountains and pine trees laden with white stuff. I got a few pictures of the scenery, which kept me occupied until we reached Wolfach.
As we were driving on either side just outside of Freudenstadt, I noticed a lot of people had parked on the side of the road. I could see many folks cross country skiing. That area still has a lot of snow after last weekend. We also saw kids sledding. If you’re ever looking for residual snow in the winter, the area west of Nagold is a good bet. It’s a higher elevation and snow sticks around longer than it does closer to Stuttgart.
Wolfach is a pleasant town, just made for tourists.
We reached Wolfach at just before noon and decided to tour the museum before we had lunch. The tour is self-guided and there are translations in German, French, and English. It turned out we got there at a good time. There weren’t too many people there when we arrived at noon, but within an hour, more people began to show up. It cost 15 euros for two adult tickets to the museum.
There were a lot more people here within an hour of our arrival. I would imagine this place gets really packed in the summer. I think now is a good time to visit Wolfach.
When we pulled into the glass factory’s large parking lot, I noticed there was a lot of parking for buses. There were no buses today, but they still had a good stream of folks coming in to tour the museum and get themselves a custom made vase. I opted not to wear my jacket in the factory, since it wasn’t that cold outside. That was a mistake, because the area where the museum is and the glassblowing is done was pretty chilly! But as I stood there watching the group ahead of us getting vases made, it occurred to me that the factory must get pretty busy in the summer. I’ll bet the museum gets hot, too. The furnaces where the vases are made get to be up 1200 degrees centigrade.
Children’s play area.
A few shots of items available in the very expansive shop. There are lots of nice items to be had and I thought the prices were pretty reasonable.
Christmas tree stands.
Items on display as you enter the museum area.
It turns out there’s a lot of “glass history” in this part of Germany. The curators did a good job explaining how the glass industry came to be in Wolfach. It’s obviously a significant source of employment. In the small theater at the museum, there was a film about the factory. I think it employs 34 people.
Above are schnapps bottles that were mouth blown. Each farm was entitled to two liters of schnapps per cow.
Different minerals found in the area. There is also a place nearby where one can pan for minerals.
These are glass eyes– prosthetics for people who have lost an eye.
Explanation about the eyes here.
This was what I was waiting for… Glassblowing. For 18 euros per vase, you can have one custom made and have a small part in its creation.
There are a couple of tables with examples of vases. You choose two colors and which pattern you want.
Bill watches the group ahead of us. They had several kids with them and I think they made three vases.
Finally, it was my turn. The guy who helped me spoke German at first, then switched to pretty good English, which I really appreciated. I choose pink and blue for my vase. In retrospect, I wish I had chosen blue and white… or maybe blue and green. Oh well. It turned out okay anyway.
The guy gave me a plastic mouthpiece that fit over the hollow rod. When he pulled my vase out of the furnace, I blew into the rod, which helped shape the glass.
Here’s a 30 second video I made of the process.
More shaping and making a flat surface on the bottom…
Another trip into the furnace.
Then 20 minutes to cool off. The glass gets up to about 500 degrees centigrade, so it needs to cool down and harden. The guy made me a certificate and we paid for the vase and gave him a two euro tip. Tips are appreciated and solicited. You must pay for the vase on the spot.
We entertained ourselves by walking around the museum some more. Not long after my session ended, a very large group showed up. There were quite a few kids among them. I must admit, I was impressed by how the guys running the glass works interacted with the kids. They were great with them. I could tell the kids were enjoying the activity, too.
Some more creations made in the factory.
Bill was eager for me to see the glass above. It was colored by uranium before it became common knowledge that uranium is poisonous.
A view of the glassblowing.
A model of the furnace, sans heat.
Old glass making tools.
You can spend your twenty minutes watching a movie about the factory if you want…
This was as close as Bill got to making a vase of his own.
A wooden cuckoo clock. I have been told Germans don’t care about them. I left mine in the States.
When it became clear the large group was going to preclude us from being able to pick up our vase, Bill went to find the guy who helped me make it. He got the vase and trimmed the top of it for me, then washed it out.
Finishing touches. Then he wrapped it for me and put it in a bag.
When we were finished making my vase, we decided to have lunch. The factory has a good restaurant serving traditional German food and some delicious desserts. The lady who took care of us was a cute older lady who looked and acted very much like Oma. She gave us the specials in German. Realizing that we were English speakers, she asked if we understood. I mostly did, though I settled on something from the regular menu anyway.
Bill looks at the menu, which was translated in French and English.
I had bratwurst with fries. It came with mustard and ketchup. The sausages were good. The fries were ordinary. I’m glad I didn’t fill up on them, because dessert is a must have experience at the factory.
Bill had Zigeunerschnitzel “gypsy schnitzel”, which was basically a breaded pork cutlet with a paprika and tomato flavored sauce. It was kind of like Hungarian salsa. I noticed that a lot of the food coming out looked and smelled delicious. I would say this restaurant offers above average food for what it is.
Lunch was very satisfying and I think we were going to stop with what we’d had until I saw the ladies at the next table with pieces of Black Forest cake. That is a particular weakness of mine. But then, so is chocolate rum cake, which they were also offering… and cheesecake, too.
Wow… an array of presents for my ass. These cakes were beautiful!
We shared a piece of Black Forest cake and had coffee. That cake was so good. It was probably the best Black Forest cake I’ve ever had anywhere!
Lunch came to about 38 euros. The lady who looked after us was doing a good job serving everyone. She got very busy as we were finishing. I bet that place is crazy with tourists when the weather warms up.
We decided to take a quick look at the Christmas town. You can get your ornaments year round!
After I made a couple more impulse purchases, we headed back to Unterjettingen. I got a few more pictures of Wolfach and the surrounding area. This is pretty much stereotypical Grimm’s Fairy Tales Germany, right here. I think I’m going to look for a house to rent for our next long weekend. I think we’d love to get away in the Black Forest, especially since it’s not far from where we live, yet it’s kind of different.
We passed a wolf and bear park on the way to and from Wolfach. This is another possibility for something to do in this area. I’m definitely adding this to my list of places to see on a Sunday. It looked well attended today.
More beautiful landscape shots from our drive.
My loot. The taller vase and paper weight came from the shop (as if you couldn’t tell). The pink and blue vase is what I helped make. Next time Bill brings me flowers, I won’t have to use the wine decanter!
Right after we got home from our adventure, my dog Arran got loose. Our door sometimes doesn’t close all the way, especially if it’s windy. Bill neglected to shut the door securely and that’s how Arran got away from us. I had just stepped out of the shower when it happened.
It’s unusual for Arran to run off. Usually, Zane is the one who scares us with his daring escapes. Fortunately, most of the people in our neighborhood have seen me or Bill with Zane and Arran. When Bill got to where we usually walk the dogs, there were people there who had seen Arran run by, including a fellow hound owner. Their dog, Oskar, is a friend of Zane’s and Arran’s. In fact, Oskar’s mom often gives our dogs treats. Anyway, they pointed Bill in the right direction. One guy even kindly drove Bill in his van. They saw a lady standing on the side of the road as if she knew someone was looking for Arran. She’d grabbed him and put him in her house. Once again, I’m heartened by how great our neighbors are and greatly relieved that Arran is okay.
We had a great day. I would definitely recommend the glass factory and Wolfach in general, especially on such a pretty day. The area is absolutely gorgeous and there’s a lot to do there, even if you aren’t wanting to make a vase. I’d like to go back and check out the mineral pit… try my luck at finding rare rocks.