Living Here Guide

Glass studio owner in Harmony with cool climate

Harmony Glassworks owner Eric Dandurand says the typically cool weather in Harmony suits his super-hot glassblowing business.
Harmony Glassworks owner Eric Dandurand says the typically cool weather in Harmony suits his super-hot glassblowing business. sprovost@thetribunenews.com

Eric Dandurand has lived in the heat of Las Vegas and the cooler climes of Stockholm but he likes the in-between of Harmony just fine.

Dandurand has owned Harmony Glassworks since 2007 and, since 2013, Cambria Glassworks as well. The latter is a retail outlet, but Harmony is where all the glass blowing gets done.

“It’s just a nice, kind of quirky little untouched town,” Dandurand said of Harmony, with its famously fixed population of 18 residents, per the sign on Highway 1. “It’s like a throwback. There’s no politics here. It’s kind of laissez-faire. It’s really pretty, too.”

Dandurand’s shop at the north end of the 1-block town attracts “mainly tourists — probably weekend getaways are the most common — and we’ve had quite a few repeat customers, too, from the (San Joaquin) Valley and L.A. and San Francisco areas,” he said.

Celebrities even drop in from time to time. Dandurand said he’s received visits from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Cleese of Monty Python fame and singer Pink.

Eric Dandurand of Harmony Glassworks demonstrates working with molten glass at the tourist destination along Highway 1, south of Cambria, California.

He and guest blowers create their artwork out in the open for visitors to watch. Dandurand makes items such as jewelry and lighting that are for sale in the shop, as well as more exotic pieces such as a replica of a 16th-century war hammer.

Dandurand, 45, is married with twin eighth-grade daughters and has lived on the Central Coast for about 20 years. He studied in Las Vegas and spent a year learning his trade at Velamsund Studios in Sweden.

The cool weather of Harmony suits him just fine, considering the equipment he uses to fire up his glassworks, which typically run about 2,100 degrees.

“An 85-degree day out here can easily be 120 in front of the forges,” Dandurand said. “When we had a shop in Atascadero, we’d blow at night (because) it would get so hot.” In Harmony, he said, “usually it’s like in the 60s — it’s not super hot.”

There aren’t many neighbors, and they don’t see much of one another, he said, but everyone gets along well.

Harmony, in other words, lives up to its name.

“I’m very happy,” he said.

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