Nestled in the historic town of Salado, Texas, sits a little blue workshop called the Coyote Glass Gallery/Salado Arts Workshop.
Upon entering the shop, one can see the bright glow of the 2000-degree furnace holding liquid glass. The music of Frank Black plays in the background and the sound of cold glass shattering off the iron pipes flows through the air as the artists continue to make new pieces; the furnace roars when each piece is being flashed.
The shop’s tables exhibit the finished pieces that show off their reflections and their elongated shadows. The smell of the cherry wood block and burning newspaper infuse their scents.
Finally, hard at work, there are two students from UMHB: senior studio art major Gail Allard and sophomore art major Kate Winchell, wiping sweat from their brows and focusing on creating exquisite glass pieces.
Offering a variety of classes and glass artwork, the Salado Arts Workshop has become a popular venue in the Salado community.
Tibish Meyers and her artist sister, Melissa Paxton, along with their husbands opened the shop in October 2009, investing in some commercial buildings.
Meyers said, “Our goal at the time was to do a weekend glass workshop that would also bring people in to see our buildings. However, the event was so popular with the village of Salado that we convinced some of the participating artists to stay on.”
Allard is the expert glassblower of the shop with Winchell as his apprentice. They have both been artists since childhood.
Allard said, “I have always practiced some form of art since I was young, from painting pictures on my bedroom walls, to taking apart various objects and re-assembling them in interesting ways. As a glassblower, I knew I wanted to make it my career about a month after I first started working with glass.”
Winchell said, “I became interested in art as a career starting in seventh grade. I was in 3-D drawing and my teacher took one of my pieces for the art department and showed the advanced art teacher. He said I had the potential to be really good at this. He offered for me to be in one of his advanced art classes. I accepted and immediately fell in love.”
So what is glassblowing exactly?
“It is an ancient art form that has been practiced for nearly 2000 years. You take hot molten glass, add pretty colors to it and make beautiful sculptures or vessels,” Allard said
The shop is designed as a nonprofit organization. They are trying to get the younger generation to create 3-D modeling, pay tribute to art, get involved in the community, purchase art and take classes. They also do a lot for the military community.
“Our military outreach program will provide classes to teach in-depth skills to veterans and active military and their families thus offering opportunity through art to release emotions and energy,” Meyers said.
The workshop has also reached out to children and families with a severe medical crisis. This charitable action has earned the shop the 2010 Business of the Year Award, largely because of its community involvement and economic impact.
Meyers said, “We are looking for a patron or two to take us to the next level so that, instead of being starving artists with mountains of paperwork piling up, we can be a strong force for economic growth and excellence in the glass art world in Central Texas. We need funds to expand our Glass Hands outreach. We could sure use someone to volunteer to take over our website or to provide funds to pay someone who has knowledge about these things.”
Allard works Monday, Wednesday, Friday and weekends with Winchell working alongside him. She was offered the job after expressing her interest to Allard about wanting to do glassblowing since first grade.
“Gail’s passion is definitely an inspiration. He gets in the zone, but we can read each other about what happens next. I’m so thankful for the opportunity Gail gave me to do this and trusting me,” Winchell said
Meyers, Winchell and Allard hope the shop will continue to grow. They express their desire for more people to come to the classes and demonstrations, especially on Fridays. On the first Friday of the month from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. people can come, bring a snack, and watch the process of glassblowing take place.