On the way back from Daytona I saw the signs for Branchville near where 95 and 26 intersect. Branchville was the home of the Swamp Man whom I learned to blow glass from at his place there in the swamp on the banks of the Edisto River. Branchville I think is the location of the first train crossing in the state… from which its name came. The Edisto River is the longest black water river in the world… probably in part because its meanders and doubles back on itself so much there in the flatlands.
It was about 2000 when I found him online while looking for information about torch working glass. Thats where you make pieces using pyrex glass by heating it in a special torch. The Swamp Man had a furnace with a crucible inside full of molten glass… you dip a stainless steel blowpipe into it to “gather” molten glass on the end of it… then you add color… more glass.. and more heat… in the “glory hole” before blowing it into something cool.
A few years ago I was going to go back to visit and googled the swamp man only to find he had died a few years before that. All that to say this… I decided to stop by and see what if anything was left of his place in the swamp. Although it had been 17 years since my last visit and about 6 years since he had passed… I was able to find it.
There was a German lady there that owned it now and she let me look around the glass studio…. although they had stored some furniture and other stuff in there… it was pretty much as he had left it…. blowpipes in their holder… a bag of Spruce Pine Batch ready to go in the furnace… jars of color on the shelf. The annealing ovens ready for new pieces… spare burner parts… you have to burn a lot of propane to blow glass.
Rest in Peace Swamp Man
For more pics and info on the Swamp Man Check out these links
Swamp Man Had a Zest for Life
Swamp Man’s work in the Whitehouse