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The art of glass

Porte-bague de Vincent Breed©
Published on 19/12/2023

One of the oldest materials made by man, artisanal glass is rekindling the flame in the four corners of Lyon, bringing a fresh look to tables and interiors with its vibrant colours.
By Isabelle Fournet and Florence Chappuis

In Lyon, glassmaking has been around for quite some time! Archaeologists have unearthed many fragments and objects dating back to the first century that point to the existence of ancient glassmaker’s workshops along the banks of the Saône. They include balsamaires (jugs used to hold oils and perfumes), jugs, tumblers and bowls, made using sand (silica), many examples of which can be seen in the permanent exhibition trail at Lugdunum Museum.Both fragile and strong, this material, which has been mastered by humanity since 3000 BCE, is undergoing a revival. Just ask Vincent Breed, creator of Cercle Verre and a famous artisan glassmaker based in the Monts du Lyonnais, who is kept very busy with orders from clients in the design and luxury sectors, as well as private customers. The same is true for Myriam Boulay of Atelier Vitrail Le Cygne: “people are beginning to integrate stained glass in modern decors.” 

Bouquet en vitrail de l'Atelier du Cygne à Lyon 6e © Myriam Boulay

Stained-glass bouquets

Like flowers but don’t have green fingers? Go for a stained-glass bouquet made by Myriam Boulay, who loves nothing more than “bringing stained glass out of windows,” to create small objects, lamps, wall lights, mirrors and pictures. Classes available on request.
Expect to spend between €60 and €70

Atelier Vitrail Le Cygne
23, rue Professeur Weill, Lyon 6e 

In 2022, Lyon’s last Contemporary Art Biennale even included a GlassArt exhibition in its “off section”. The event was initiated by the association HotShop, led by Vincent Breed: “The aim was to put the spotlight on young talent, by displaying their work alongside that of internationally renowned artists, to help them break into the industry. You need to bear in mind that, usually, an artist must spend between €400 and €500 a day to hire a workshop and run the kilns, as the energy required is very expensive. This is why we try to provide a more affordable solution for young artists, in particular by welcoming them into the Cercle Verre, France’s largest private workshop.” 

Flame of passion 

Porte-bague de Vincent Breed©

Regularly working for architects, designers, luxury hotels and fashion houses, Vincent Breed mainly produces unique pieces. In his workshop, you can find affordable creations, however, including elegant ring holders, made with solid glass derived from sulphide. The only difficulty is choosing a colour…
€39 in the workshop

Le Cercle Verre
13 chemin de la Creuzille, in Brussieu

When people think of glassmaking trades, glassblowing (which requires a kiln heated to 2000°C) is the first thing that comes to mind. However, techniques such as lampworking, stained-glass window making and fusing (where glass is joined at high temperature or thermoformed at 800/1000°C) also have the wind in their sails, as well as glass upcycling. This is the speciality of the workshop Economad, in Francheville, which creates many tableware items made with coloured glass bottles. “The idea is to add value to the original object,” explains its creator Christophe Guillerm, a self-taught glassmaker who arrived in the trade via waste recovery.

A lot of bottle

Bouteilles upcyclées en plateaux de l'Atelier Economad © Atelier Economad

The self-taught Christophe Guillerm melts old bottles and works them cold, sawing, polishing and upcycling them to offer a whole range of tableware objects, focussed on the aperitif, including glasses (€50 for 6), platters (€20) and carafes (€20).

Atelier Economad
40 rue de la Table-de-Pierre, Francheville

If this sounds fascinating, then you can have a go yourself during a dedicated workshop or simply look at this ancestral material, which is full of surprises and can be recycled almost endlessly, through different eyes. 

Try your hand

Would you like to learn the techniques involved in working glass? Wecandoo offers no less than ten glass-working workshops in Lyon and the surrounding area. Choose from jewellery creation, fusing (ideal for children aged 7 and up), introductions to the arts of stained-glass and glassblowing, creating objects from upcycled glass, and more…
€40 to €295 depending on the workshop.

Glass gems

Collier Totem bleu et or de l'Atelier Stella Stellina ©

Pinuccia and her daughter Stella use spun, blown and fused glass to create jewellery in various styles, as either unique pieces or limited series. There is ‘Totem’, a very contemporary long necklace, for example, which is made of spun glass beads, created using a torch and Murano glass rods, and set off with gold leaf. The lace is made of imitation suede. 

Stella Stellina
23 rue du Bœuf & 5 rue Saint-Jean, Lyon 5

A colour for each mood!

Boucles d'oreilles en perles interchangeables de l'atelier Claire Jean © Claire Jean

In her workshop in Villechenève, Claire Jean creates clever jewellery with Murano glass and silver, like her earrings with blown glass beads that can be changed according to your mood of the day!
€35 to €55.
Introductory workshops beginning in 2024.

Le Plan sur la Comète 
6 rue Sainte-Marie-des-Terreaux, Lyon 1er

Water bubble

"Assoiffé" de Sillycat Glassblower © Sillycat Glassblower

Shaped like bubbles, the plant waterers named “les assoiffés” (literally “the thirsty ones”) created by the glassblower Sillycat are made from recycled bottles melted down by a torch. Blue, green, brown or colourless, all decorative and ecological, they give plants just the right amount of water. With each purchase, €1 is donated to the Lyon-based association Juste un geste. Classes available. 
€20 online – €18 at the shop. 

Boutique Folies Douces
75 montée de la Grande-Côte, Lyon 1er


Gourdes Gobi Indoor ©Gobi

Made in Lagnieu, the Gobi Indoor flask is made of 60% recycled glass. The stopper and protective sleeve are made of a bio-material and come in nine colours. You can even insert a customisable disc in the stopper. What’s more, the manufacturing impact of this eco-designed product is compensated in just three months! 
50 cl: €23 

The star of Lyon’s bouchons

Pot Lyonnais et fillette des établissements Minjard © Julie Laurent

The only official holder of the registered design for the authentic ‘Pot Lyonnais’, Maison Minjard has Lyon’s famous thick-bottomed 46 cl bottle made by Verallia, in the Beaujolais. There are three decorated versions of the model (Bellecour, Fourvière and Terreaux) and it can also be personalised (minimum of 60 copies).

Au Sirop de la Rue
16 rue Saint-Jean, Lyon 5e

Maison Guyot
32 quai Saint-Antoine, Lyon 2e

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