26 S. Strawberry St., 215-279-7118, hudsonbeachglass.com
A glassblower has to love what he does. Otherwise, why would he stick his face next to a furnace, which is 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit, to craft a single cup? Sean Gilvey, who's been blowing glass since he was 12, is more than willing to endure a few singed eyelashes for his work.
"You get addicted to the heat," he says. "And the physical act of glassblowing is a lot like meditation — the dancing, the rhythm, the timing — it's all very similar."
Last month, Gilvey relocated from New York to Philadelphia to open Hudson Beach Glass, a gallery where visitors can both watch him work and purchase his finished products. His glassware includes jewel-toned soap dishes, minimalist sushi trays and ornamental plates.
Before settling in Old City, he and his wife, Emily, considered moving to St. Thomas or Brooklyn. But they passed up the Virgin Islands and Gilvey's home state for a concrete building on Strawberry Street — the building that had housed Hot Soup, a glass school, for 12 years. "It had the ventilation system and the variance we needed," Gilvey says. And the martini crowd didn't phase him. "We didn't want to live with piña colada-swilling, cruise-ship people from the Virgin Islands."