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The Mauritius Glass Gallery is not only a shop where you can buy various hand-made glass items, but also a very nice visit that you can enjoy if you have a little time to spare while you are in the area.
Very central and accessible, it is found in Phoenix, close to the ‘Jumbo’ shopping center.
Once you get to the Phoenix roundabout with the tall totem in the middle, you take the exit leading to Phoenix Camp Minerals and to the industrial area. Turn right and follow the road until you see the MGG sign. Turn left and the parking area for buses and cars is well indicated. As this roundabout is always really busy with traffic in the morning and in the afternoon, I would advise to avoid these hours for a visit if you can.
Getting out of the car, I cracked up laughing at this sign. Loved it!
There is also a weather station, just in case you hadn’t noticed what the weather was like. ;-)
All the products from the Mauritius Glass Gallery are made from recycled glass. They use mainly coke bottles, but are starting to incorporate other bottles too in various ways. For example, they are crushed to add a touch of color to the creations or just for decorative purposes.
I was very glad to learn that they had a bin at the disposal of anyone who wished to get rid of their glass bottles in an environmentally friendly way, as even though recycle bins have been placed all round the island by ‘Mission Verte’ (who are doing a great job by the way), none of them collect glass.
The first thing you see when you get in is the hands museum.
The room is a little dark, so you might have to squint a little to read some of the names, but you still should manage just fine.
The ‘hands’ are organized by categories: writers, sportsperson and tv personalities.
You can look for personalities you know or you like.
There is also a new category for known Mauritian people, which I think is a very nice initiative.
I was curious as to how these were made as glass is a material not really malleable unless very hot, and found it interesting to know that the hand and foot prints are first made in sand which is then used when creating the mold.
After the museum, there is a short corridor with distorting mirrors. We had quite a bit of fun there and spent some time seeing ourselves short, tall, fat and distorted in other ways.
It proved a little tricky though to take photographs that showed the distortions without being blurry.
This probably would be what I would look like if I were a small and stocky.
And this one gives you two bodies with one head or one body with no head depending how close or far you are from it.
Without forgetting the little touch of humor at the very last mirror, which is of course a classic, non-distorting one. Quite liked that pun too!
We didn’t have any kids with us at the time of the visit but I can imagine them spending quite a bit of time having fun in that little corridor.
As you enter the next room, the first thing you notice is the very high temperature.
Here you get to the heart of the glass making workshop and see them handling and blowing glass.
I must say, it is quite fascinating to watch and the transformation from a red runny blob to transparent hard glass in such a quick time is amazing.
When we got there, one of the artisans was finishing a glass creation. I think it was a dodo, or something similar. Really impressive.
Then they worked in a chain as they had to do fifty cognac glasses.
First the hot melted glass was taken out of the oven. It was brought over to the end of a long pipe. The glass is blown in a mold so that all glasses have the same shape.
Once that is done, it is transferred to two other artisans who worked on the foot of the glass.
And finally, it was put in an oven to slowly cool down overnight as, if it cools down too fast it’s going to break.
Once it’s cold the top is heated again so that it is cleanly cut to obtain the glass.
The artisans seem to be used to having people watch them work and they are really attentive to place themselves in such a way that people can see what they are doing.
Right next to the working area there is a little display area with information about the history of glass and various organizations connected to the Glass Gallery.
Quite interesting, but at the same time a little old fashioned in my opinion. It would gain to be refreshed a little so that that information be presented in a more entertaining way.
That about sums the actual visit.
Although spending a few minutes in the shop is quite worthwhile too.
There is a very wide variety of products on sale and they do take orders if you need a larger quantity or a slightly different model. Their products range from Rs 100 for the smaller figures to over Rs 8000 for the bigger pieces.
Their most popular product is this Phoenix glass made from a Phoenix bottle.
They have lots of decorative glass figurines, handy house objects or bigger vases, lamps and displays.
And they also have some products from other organizations too.
As I was there, I made the most of my visit and bought some nice glasses (I don’t know about you, but at home I always seem to run out of glasses!) and a little decorative ship for my son.
This visit is not a very long one and can be nicely incorporated to a longer trip if you are in the area. It’s worth it, especially if you have children with you as they learn a lot while visiting, not only about the glass making process but also about the environment and recycling. And of course they will have lots of fun in front of the distorted mirrors.
Address: Pont-Fer, Phoenix (near the beer factory)
Tel: 696 3360
Monday to Friday: From 8am to 5pm
Saturday: From 8am to 12pm
Prices (at the time of visit):
Adults: Rs 50
Children: Rs 25