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Traveling Texas: The art of gravity, heat, and time at Salado Glassworks

Posted at 10:09 AM, Mar 09, 2023

SALADO, TX — For years, world-renowned artists of all kinds have been attracted to the village of Salado to learn all about the ancient art of glassblowing.

From functional glassware to custom art installations, the artisans at Salado Glassworks create uniquely beautiful objects. Patrons are invited to come to watch, or to even give things a try themselves.

Salado Glassworks owner, Gail Allard, grew up in an artistic household.

“My dad was a musician and my mom painted a little bit. I was always kind of that art kid growing up. I went to college for art, met a few people, and ended up at a glassblowing studio up in Temple. Next thing you know, I found my passion and fell in love with it," Allard said.

"With glass, you are limited by your physical capability and your imagination.”

For more than two decades, he’s been creating glass creations with his talented staff. When 25 News visited, they were making light fixtures — and watching it was like watching a choreographed dance.

“You have to figure out gravity, you have to figure out heat, and you have to figure out time. All of these three things you put together to make that glass do what you want it to do. So, you know, it's kind of a dance," Allard said.

"You're leading or sometimes the glass is leading, and you work together and make it all happen in the end.”

From stunning works of art like the 23-foot tall chandelier in Central Texas A&M’s founder’s building, to precious memorial glass, there are beautiful glass objects everywhere that incorporate a bit of the ash of loved ones.

“People love them. Your loved one isn't just a jar on the shelf — it's a piece of art that you can set out somewhere," Allard said.

With Allard's careful instruction, 25 News set about practicing this art that goes back thousands of years.

There were many trips to the furnace while keeping the molten glass turning, then choosing the color and carefully rolling it, then using various tools to pinch swirls in the glass.

Then, there was the chance to use breathing to shape the glass.

It then goes into an oven to slowly cool down overnight — then the finished product is ready to be picked up later on.

Allard says it’s a family-friendly experience — even for children even as young as three — and an even more hands-on experience for children 12 and older.

“Age 12 is perfect for a little bit more exploring, and learning what that heat is like. It then gives them an opportunity to really kind of see what it's like to be a glassblower for a little bit," Allard said.

For a complete listing of the family-friendly “blow your own” events coming up, check out their website: https://www.saladoglassworks.com/