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Randi Solin, left, and Natalie Blake’s Fire Arts Studio will get its 15 minutes of fame on national TV this week. A film crew from “The Bachelor” shot a segment in their Brattleboro studio and workshop.

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Hollywood gets crafty in Brattleboro

Film crews from ‘The Bachelor’ quietly take over a local studio to film segment for TV show

BRATTLEBORO—When you think about romance, sooner or later the pot-throwing scene from the 1980s movie, Ghost — the one where gorgeous dead lover Patrick Swayze embraces equally gorgeous yet still alive lover Demi Moore, while together their hands deeply caress wet clay — comes to mind.

It’s a good guess that it came to the minds of the producers of the cheesy TV show, The Bachelor, too.

That may be why producers at ABC chose in December to film a scene of a new short series, “The Bachelor Winter Games” — a two-episode spinoff to be shown during the Winter Olympics — at the upscale art gallery, glass-blowing studio, and ceramic studio that make up Fire Arts Vermont on Route 30 in Brattleboro.

Glass artist Randi Solin and ceramicist Natalie Blake, who together own Fire Arts (formerly Fulcrum Arts) were excited when “The Bachelor Winter Games” came to film.

And while the pair are sworn to secrecy about what happens during the show, they are permitted to use the word “steamy.”

Their episode will appear on Feb. 20, and Fire Arts will be hosting a viewing event that night from 7:30 to 10 p.m. They will provide finger food and a cash bar stocked by the Saxtons River Distillery.

’Hopeful and excited’

Since approximately 9 million people in the U.S. watch every episode of The Bachelor, not to mention that viewers around the globe tune in to wallow in its faux idea of romance, the filming at Fire Arts was a very big deal.

“We are hopeful and excited,” Solin said. “People who watch the show often visit the places they see on the show. They even plan vacations around the various locations. We’re hoping this will bring more tourism to Brattleboro. Southern Vermont could see an amazing influx of visitors, and they can visit Fire Arts and carve a plate or learn to blow glass.”

The people involved in the show were based at the Hermitage Ski resort on Haystack Mountain in Wilmington during filming. When a segment was filmed in Manchester, the whole town shut down to greet the production.

However, The Bachelor entered Brattleboro by stealth. The producers were looking for a place for a romantic date for the bachelor and one of the women vying for his hand. They found the perfect place at Fire Arts.

“When they saw the art gallery, they got very excited and the wheels started turning,” Blake said. “They have a romantic evening in the gallery and then they have a pottery event. I can’t say legally what happened. Food may have been involved. You must tune in to find out.”

Hollywood descended on this tranquil spot en masse.

“To film the episode, 20 white vans descended on the studio, filled with 40 crew members who flew in from Los Angeles,” Blake said.

“They came at 2 p.m. and stayed until 2 a.m. The kitchen was crammed with black gear bags, antennae, camera equipment, and ladders as the crew swept away tables, chairs, vessels, and displays within the gallery space. The amazing artwork and lighting within Fire Arts Gallery served as the perfect backdrop to the romantic date night storyline.”

Sophistication was key. The date arrived, as in a red carpet event, in a limo. She was dressed in what Blake called “Biker chic.”

“She wore a bustier of leather with an off-the-shoulder top and tight, tight, tight leather jeans and big-ass pumps and lots of make-up,” Blake said.

Couples classes

Blake and Solin had time to chat with the stars. The bachelor was a good guy who “was nice enough to get a date on his own,” Solin said wryly. His date was uptight at first but grew more comfortable as filming progressed.

When they were finished, she was relaxed enough to pet Solin’s dog and let him lick her face.

Once the show has aired, Blake and Solin plan to capitalize on the “couple-ness of the event.”

“We’re launching a post-Bachelor event where you can come as a couple and take a class together,” Blake said. “On the glass side, it’s going to be making two stemless wine glasses. In the studio, they will carve plates together.

“It’s a way to have a date as an activity. Come and get to know each other by working with your hands. Romance is making something together. You can get to know someone else on that level. And we’ll do pot-throwing workshops. If you want to have your Ghost moment, you can have it.”

Blake said there was a natural tie-in between the low-brow show and the high-end art gallery.

“The place where we meet is our hands-on connection to making things,” Blake said. “We want people to connect with themselves. They come in off an uncomfortable world that doesn’t let a person be disarmed.

“They come in here and are disarmed by making something. They’re not talking about something, they’re not socializing, they’re making things. And more often than not, when people come here to make things, they make things in silence.

“We’re going to connect people with their hearts through their hands. My whole motto is ‘Get out of your head, into your heart through your hands.’ That’s a working motto for Fire Arts Vermont.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #446 (Wednesday, February 14, 2018). This story appeared on page A1.

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