Nicholson creating glass-blown Mandarins for festival milestone

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Mountain Mandarin Festival in Auburn, as we write in our current issue. Now here’s a treat that blends the marquee Placer County fruit with local artistry: Nicholson Blown Glass is creating limited-edition, glass-blown Mountain Mandarins for the affair.

We can’t wait to see these masterpieces up close: We’re already big fans of the Nicholson’s glass-blown pumpkins, also featured in our current issue.

The Mandarin Festival is November 22-24 at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn, and the glass Mandarins will be presented to VIPs who have helped the festival grow over the years. The group includes locals such as Joanne Neft, who is a founder of the festival, helped launch the Auburn Farmers Market and is co-author of two cookbooks featuring PlacerGROWN produce — Placer County Real Food and The Art of Real Food.

Auburn glassblowers Rick and Janet Nicholson — among our favorite regional artists — also are creating some of the hand-crafted glass Mandarins for the upcoming Autumn Art Studios Tour, also celebrating 20 years.

The husband-and-wife team are pioneers of the Art Studios Tour, and their studio always is a highlight of the trip. This year’s open-studios tour includes 75 Placer County artists showing in 49 studios, from Roseville to Colfax.


The glass-blown Mandarins are a true work of art: They are created under 1500 degrees of heat and involve intricate glass sculpting to create the green stems and leaves that sit atop the bright orange orbs.

Multiple layers of colored glass power are used to create the orange hue, which also includes the textured look of a Mandarin.

Rick honed his glass sculpting skills at the prestigious Pilchuck School in Seattle this summer, Janet told us. “This is a good way to put what he learned into practice,” she added.

Rick met Chris Stenzel, who grew up in nearby Newcastle, at Pilchuk last year, and now Chris is part of the team at Nicholson Blown Glass, whose studio sits on a picturesque promontory on Bell Road.

The Nicholsons are famous for their intricate glass-blown designs — typically one-of-a-kind creations. Their works have been installed at Shangri-La Hotels in Shanghai and Beijing, China; the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Naples, Florida; and the Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) lobby in New York.

Select exhibitions have included the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento; the Maui Art Glass Expo in Wailea; and the L.A. International Airport.

You can visit the Nicholson Blown Glass studio during the Autumn Art Studios Tour. The address is 5555 Bell Rd. in Auburn. For more information, call 530-823-1631 or visit

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Follow us on PinterestFollow us on Pinterest