Texas 1998 Glass Tour

Return to Sitemap
Rev. 2006-07-28, -08-15, -12-04, 2009-05-25

In 1998, I made a determined effort to visit the existing studios that I could reach in a short period of time from Dallas while I was working five non-consecutive days each week with two weeks vacation each year.  Not going as far as Houston, I looped through several cities in mid-Texas.  Included here is a visit to the museum at Texas A&M
Some of the sites shown on this page no longer exist and the text has been edited to reflect looking back instead of as a current visit.

Von Koef North, South 1, South 2, South 3

Scarborough Faire
Studio & Gallery
Zero Gravity
Texas A&M
Art Allison
Fire Island
See Also
Vetro in 2004
Two Dallas studios in 2005
Two Austin studios in 2009

Glassblowing at Scarborough Faire

Every year for more than a decade, Peter Andres & Chris Chapman have traveled from New York state to blow glass at the site they built at Scarborough Faire near Waxahachie, south of Dallas. Scarborough Faire is held weekends from late April, through May, into early June and includes a wide range of entertainments and food on a site of many acres. People come in Renaissance costume and see craft people at work, watch entertainers like jugglers and acrobats. Besides furnace glassblowing there are lampworkers, weavers, armor makers, potters, blacksmiths and many other craft presenters. Food ranges from smoked turkey legs to ostrich sausage, beer to frozen lemonade. I have visited several times, the most recent in April 1998. [in 2000, they stopped coming. And returned later.]
The furnace glassblowing demonstrations and sale are carried out in a pavilion finished in the English Tudor style with benches under a roof, shelves around the back to hold glass (and living quarters upstairs.)  The site was built and is maintained by Andres, not the Faire. Building Exterior
Peter is working at the left in this view of the hot face across the heads of the audience. Behind him is a barrel glory hole with a frax in expansion steel door. The pipe heater is near his right elbow, then are two glass furnaces, usually one clear and one color. You can see some of his glass on the shelf above - more space with glass is to his left. The tool chest, in the "Renaissance" style, to the right has the marver laid on top. The annealer is near his left knee and the bench just in front of the man in the white shirt. Note the costumes on Peter and the man sitting to the right. Working floor and face
This picture shows some of Peter's work as well as the kind of display area he has created (and the timber structure of the building and the stairs going up. Much of the work is solid colors with high contrast lip wraps and handles. Peter sells sets of goblets and pitchers as well as multicolored works, ornaments, and paperweights. Some of Peter's work and displays
Cross shot of hot face at Scarborough Faire site. Glory hole to left, clear glass furnace, colored glass crucible behind white round door. Annealer is under the wood box lid at the bottom of the picture. The marver is on the box at the right rear. Display space runs on the upper level behind the furnaces, providing a good view of the floor, and continues around to the left. Hot face of Scarborough Faire site


Wimberley, Texas
Wimberley Glass Works

Wimberley, Texas, is the site of more than its share of artists. Located southwest of Austin at the eastern edge of the Hill Country, the area has attracted artists for years. I went back for a visit in late April 1998.  One place producing primarily large scale slumped glass sculpture pieces, owned by David Foglia, is missing because it was closed when I visited.

Wimberley Glass Works is located just south of town and does public demonstrations over the weekend. Owner is Tim de Jong. The two building complex includes a gallery area with glass hanging outside and the blowing studio. Glass shown is almost entirely production goblets, glasses and pitchers.  They are now (2006) a very serious large glass production studio - check it out http://www.wgw.com/ and have moved 5 miles down the road from this site, see the web site 2006-10-25 Wimberly Studio gallery
This is the second building, just to the left of the picture above, containing the hot and cold shops. On a more recent visit, an extension to the back was added for ventilation and air supply blowers. Outside of Wimberley Glass Works


This is the interior of the building just above, showing the hot wall. On a more recent visit, holes had been cut in the wall so the noisy blowers could be moved beyond the wall and ventilation would be more positive. The wall at the bottom of the picture separates the viewing area from the hot floor and the pipe in front of that is the protective railing in front of several rows of seats. The cold shop is over to the left.


Interior of the Hot Shop


 Studio and Gallery

Last Updated : July 2, 1998 - 2006-07-29

Also located in Wimberley, Texas, was this studio of  on the road east from the center of town. The Studio and Gallery is a new building with hot shop, cold working shop and gallery under one roof.   The story is messy and confused and I won't repeat the gossip I have heard and can't confirm.  Pictures remain here because it was one nice looking solution to a small operation.  Gallery though white framed door on right, shop center, coldworking left. Midore von Koeffler building

Besides working in hot glass, the studio did cast glass sculpture and large scale stained glass but did not do production work. (This picture is somewhat distorted because of graphics editing to correct camera angle.)


Hot Shop


Zero Gravity Glass Studio,
Spicewood, Texas 1998 Visit
[Later called That Glass Girl, closed]

Marti Johnson operates one of the newer (in 1998) studios in Texas near the town of Spicewood northwest of Austin. Hers is primarily a production studio. I arrived later than I planned and caught her just as she was starting a piece before going off on errands so I took a number of pictures, asked a few questions, and we went our ways. 
 [Updated 98-7-13  That Glass Girl, 25418 River Road, Spicewood, TX 78669. www.thatglassgirl.com site gone studio closed, 2009-05 ]
This shot shows Marti starting a piece, but was mostly taken to show the hugely insulated furnace, about a foot of it all around, and the glory hole with its unusual handle arrangement, note the pipe out just in front of her face, which pivots rod that pushes on two other rods that open and close the doors. Marty and the hot face.
The rest of Marti's hot face, with another glory hole with the same door arrangement and a fuming/dusting box. The marver at the left has a (glass) bowl with water in it for cracking the piece and the annealer is further to the left. More of the hot face
I think the most important point about the door rig is that the handle is right out front for the solo worker to use, running off the right edge of this picture. The cross bar just below the pipe elbow in the middle of the picture has pulleys/wheels at each end which force the outside rods together or apart. The outside rods are pivoted at the doors and slide through eyes at the back of the unit. Detail of the Glory hole door
It may take a moment of study to notice that Marti is working left handed in this shot, but I would have to include another shot that I don't have to reveal that she works glass both ways. A quick judgment might be that she seems to have her metal tools at this end of the bench and her wooden ones at the other end. I am ambidextrous also, but I don't recall having tried working glass yet with both hands. The feet barely visible on the piece in this picture and more visible in the next are each made with one punty of glass, which is sheared diagonally to give a tapered foot. Marty at work

Some of Marti's production work, lined up on shelves near the cold working equipment. Marti hits the legged items with a MAPP torch as soon as they are off the punty to smooth the punty mark to omit some of the cold working.


Some of the production work


TAMU 98 Texas A & M University Visit, 1998

One of the most astonishing collections of blown and cut glass can be found in an astonishing location: Texas A&M University in College Station, in the center of the triangle of Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. The Memorial Student Center (MSC) museums are there to enhance the college experience of students far from urban centers, yet the collection of glass offered is unmatched in any major city in Texas. I have visited several times, the most recent in April 1998. [Actually, once since then, also. MF]

The glass shown here includes turn of the century Tiffany and Steuben as well other 19th century sources of glass. Examples English Cameo glass and American cut crystal of such quality that it travels to exhibits in the U.S.A. and England. The museum brings in traveling shows, including a paperweight show of contemporary and antique weights. 8/24/99


Tiffany Glass Tiffany glass at TAMU Student Center Gallery
Burmese Glass Fairy Lights Burmese Fairy Lights  glass at TAMU Student Center Gallery
Mixed Case Mixed Case of Glass


Grapevine, Texas 98
[Rev. 2004]

Grapevine, Texas, is located just north of the huge D/FW Airport. Grapevine Art Glass is located a block off Main Street which has many shops in historic buildings and a blacksmith in the old train terminal. Betty Hansen runs the gallery that features work by the owners of the studio and other artists from around Texas.

The studio has been reworked twice since my visit.  The latest version of info on gallery and studio is on my Texas Glass page.

Grapevine Art Glass Exterior

Below, the studio in 1998.

Furnace And Work Area


In the Gallery

Display Stands in Gallery


Cabinet of Hot Glass


Blowout at Kittrell Riffkind 1998

Rev. 2003-05-03 (image size, layout), 2005-02-26

Kittrell/Riffkind Art Glass  as a Source

Kittrell-Riffkind and the audience tentKittrell-Riffkind Art Glass is located near the intersection of Beltline and the Dallas North Tollroad in the shopping area some will recall as Sakowitz Village, just east of the Tollroad. The gallery portion of the store, under Barbara Kittrell's hand is mostly hot glass, while Michael Riffkind oversees the stained glass, fusing, and lampworking classes and supply sales. In early May 1998, a month long show started with a two day glass blowout held at the edge of the parking lot with most Texas furnace glass artists taking a time slot and with lampworking artists doing demos just inside the door.
Michael Riffkind under the tentMichael Riffkind (standing), Matthew LaBarbara (seated center), Diane Flynn (standing center) with the front of KR in the background, blowing floor to the right.
General shot of the blowing floor. The studio was created from equipment borrowed from various sources, including Art Allison and Hickory Street Hot Glass. The furnace and glory hole were fired from propane bottles. The annealer was the regular one in in K-R, about a 25 yard run from the hot floor. A surprise to me was the well worn work bench, a standup, but one where the worker faces the audience. Missed in the photography was Brad Abrams who has a studio in southeast Dallas.

The blowing floorThe heavy green "pipe" is the permanent handrail for the steps up to the right. Hugh Erwin, working at the bench, is one of four principals involved in Hickory Street Hot Glass, near Fair Park, just east of downtown Dallas. Hugh has been around hot glass in Dallas for a long time.


Donated Glass Pieces made at the demos, plus some donated pieces from the artists were sold at a silent auction to benefit the Dallas Visual Arts Center, east of downtown.
Window displayOne of the window displays inside Kittrell-Riffkind showing pieces by some of the artists working glass.


Matthew LaBarbera, from AustinMatthew LaBarbera probably came the farthest, since his Fire Island studio is in Austin where he works with his wife, Teresa Ueltschey. Part of their production are Cave Weights, ovoid multilayered pieces that are ground flat on one side to cut through the layers and view the cave-like solid interior.
Art working MarbleArt Allison works glass beside the road north from Pottsboro TX to Lake Texoma. Many of his pieces show distinctive use of dark background glass and metallic fumed details. Here he is working a quick marble using a modified piece of tubing held with a pair of pliers.
Diane Flynn at the benchDiane Flynn, besides being very tall, also is one of the few who works both the lamp and the furnace, having started with beadmaking and worked up to teaching that before starting at the furnace. She prepared small leaves and flowers during her torch demo and used them on the vase she made in her furnace demo. Here she is just picking them up. Her studio is in Arlington.
Terry Maxwell Terry Maxwell owns Divas Glass Art, Burleson TX, south of Ft. Worth, where she also offers classes. Terry started with stained glass and does some lampworking as well as a lot of furnace working. The chalk sketch on the floor is of a double piece attempted earlier (the piece ended where the chalk is.)


Art Allison, Pottsboro TX
Closed 2008

Art Allison returned to Texas after training and working in glass in Ohio and Wyoming to build on property owned by his family at a spot exactly 5 miles north of the intersection where the road goes north to Lake Texoma, total of 90 miles north from my home east of downtown Dallas. Pottsboro is west of Denison.
He built everything himself, setting up for under $5,000 completely equipped.  He says one thing he would change is the dirt floor, which gets muddy when rain blows in.  Art runs his furnace off of high pressure propane from the large tank behind the building using a venturi burner so when electricity fails he does not lose the glass or the pot.  Since these pictures were taken, Art has converted a building 200 feet left of this one into a gallery.  Both buildings face the highway a few yards from the shoulder. (more)
Allison Glassworks, Pottsboro TX, front entrance
Allison Glassworks building side view with propane tank
Art blows alone on a regular schedule.  There is seating for 4-6 people behind the camera position below.  The annealers are behind him to the left and are modest in size and heated with clothes dryer elements.  The barrel shown in both these pictures is for fuming, which Art did a lot of at this time.  A vent leads away in back and both liquid and dry chemicals can be applied.  To the right are the old furnace which was rebuilt not long after this was taken and just in the corner of the picture is the glory hole. Allison Glassworks furnace and fuming barrel
Art Allison working glass


Fire Island, Austin TX
(Closed 2008)

Fire Island Hot Glass Studio, located in a small industrial park on the east side of Austin, Texas, is the oldest glassblowing studio in the state.  At the entry to the building leads to an office space with gallery shelves and a small photography stand.  A hallway down the left side of the building leads past shelf storage, a shipping counter and cold working space.  Beyond these is the blowing floor.  The view directly ahead is below.  The bench is to the right and the annealers and pipes on the right rear corner as in the photo below.  The furnace is the rectangular box with the sloping doors. Matthew LaBarbera and his wife, Teresa Ueltschey, use enough colors that they melts them in several smaller crucibles around a larger clear.  The two doors open on one large space that has lots of insulation. floor plan Fire Island studio, Austin TX front entrance
Fire Island hotwall portion In this picture is the pipe cooler which uses a recirculating pump so it can be positioned without having a hose and a drain.  The unit is mounted on the end of a marver which can be rolled around the shop.  A foot pedal switch turns on the water which cascades Fire Island pipe cooler and threading rollerinto the lower part of the pipe and drains back to the bucket holding the pipe.
Also shown is a bracket with threading rollers clamped to the marver with large Vice Grip clamp pliers more commonly used for welding.
Fire Island pipe storage and annealer
In the images below, a wooden turn mold is used to quickly form the basic shape of a bottle or vase.  From left to right, the prepared very hot moile is positioned in the mold by the glassblower who is standing on a plastic milk carton being used as a step.  The assistant closes the mold, which is made of fruit wood soaked to a waterlogged state, and the blower inflates the moile inside the mold while turning it.  On a command from the blower, usually a foot tap, the mold is opened and the piece removed, the blower stepping down and the assistant returning the mold to the bucket to soak.2008-08-15
Fire Island using a wood mold


Table of Contents - Studios

Site Map

Contact Mike Firth