Local glass blowers make colorful, one-of-a-kind pieces

Want to blow your mind-without blowing your budget? Visit the Hot Shop at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to find a hidden gem: It's where glass blowers make colorful, one-of-a-kind pieces sold in the Botanica gift shop for as little as $25. Each day, Conservatory guests have the opportunity to watch live demonstrations. "It's like you're taking a class," says glass blower Mike Stepanski. "I'm walking you through the process. It's education on how glass works."

The Hot Shop operates each year from March to December, and offers spring and summer workshops for those eager to try their hand at the art. Although the Hot Shop originally began as a one-year companion to the Conservatory's Chihuly glass exhibition, it was so popular that it earned a longer stay. "You always see something new being made," says Conservatory marketing associate Alana Manwaring. "You can walk in anytime and pick up what's going on. The guides are so personable."

Daily Hot Shop demonstrations are free with admission and take place weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and weekends from 12 to 3 p.m. Workshops take place on Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. and cost $50 to $80. Learn more at FPConservatory.org.