Arribas Brothers - The Glass Artisans of Disney
Art is defined as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. It produces works that are to be appreciated for their beauty or sometimes their emotional power. Walt Disney was not only a great artist, but he was a huge advocate for celebrating all types of art—
as well as the artist. Once Walt founded his own studio, he made it a point to have the artists within his company enroll in art school to further enhance their skills. When that proved to be unsatisfactory due to the curriculum, he created an art school of his own which eventually became the California Institute of the Arts
"If I can help provide a place to develop the talent of the future, I think I will have accomplished something."
Beauty and the Beast Glass Rose
The Disney Parks hire a variety of talents—those behind the scenes creating the magical world that we see surrounding us; and those who dance, sing, sketch, and who decorate the delicious treats we see on display. One talent in particular is the art of glass blowing and cutting done by the Arribas Brothers shop. It was at the 1964 World's Fair that Tomas and Alfonso Arribas, who were representing Spain, met Walt Disney. Walt was immensely impressed with their handcrafted works of art. Three years later, in 1967, the Arribas Brothers created magic in their own small shop inside Sleeping Beauty's Castle in Disneyland. Now their art can be found in 19 Disney park locations around the world.
As with most Disney's Cast Members, the Arribas Brothers bring in artisans from around the world to create glass works of art for you to take home or as gifts. To witness this craft first hand is absolutely amazing. You can watch Cast Members shape glass figures, exquisite jewelry, delicate ornaments, and unique decor. Another great feature is personalizing your glass with custom engraving or etching. If you have an item in mind you'd like to create, Arribas Brothers will work with you designing pieces to your specifications.
I had the opportunity to witness one of the Cast Members making glass ornaments in their shop while visiting the Magic Kingdom. I was mesmerized watching each step of the process. The artisan moved with ease as he opened one of the oven doors (which appeared to house the heat of the sun) to pull out what looked like a small round flame. It easily attached to a long metal tube where it stayed until the ornament was complete. He rolled it in some tiny, sparkling gold beads before returning it to the oven, keeping it on the pole as he rotated the glass to heat it up again. This step was used to create the various colors of the ornaments. He repeated the process a couple of times with other colors before he sat down, attaching a blowing tube to the opposite end of the pole. He then began blowing into the mouth piece, turning the glass slowly. I watched with utter fascination as the ornament began to take shape. Afterwards, he attached another small piece of flaming glass to create a hook for the top and used a pair of shears to cut the ornament from pole. From start to finish, the Cast Member created the ornament in about ten minutes. I highly recommend adding this demonstration to your park schedule. The store has a schedule of when the artists demonstrate their techniques for glass design. You can walk around and watch many of the artisans as they create these extraordinary works of art.
If you want to know more about the Arribas Brothers and their art, click here. You may also purchase items on their website by clicking their SHOP link.