GUTHRIE, Okla. – It started with Marilee Spearman.
She’s the one who wanted to take a class in glass.
With a sheepish look, Marilee recalls, “My friend and I went to Hobby Lobby to a half-price glass sale and we each came out with $300 worth of glass.”
She ended up liking her first class project.
Her husband Richard liked it too.
“We were hooked,” he says.
“Our interests grew and people started buying glass from us.”
Both were recently retired from federal government jobs at Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City.
They had just the right combination of money and spare time to ‘crash’ the art glass ceiling.
Marilee says, “That was when my husband said, ‘uh oh. I think we’d better so something to take care of your hobby.'”
Richard recalls, “Very shortly, I had to move all my antiques out of our building and into Guthrie.”
Over the past several years their Art Glass Emporium has grown from a little shop off Highway 33 to the biggest retailer of art glass between Dallas and Kansas City.
Now, the Spearmans teach classes.
Their ample supply of raw materials has attracted other artists too.
“Every different color in the glass is made separately,” describes blown glass artist Connie Cristopher.
When Connie went looking for a place to fire up her portable furnace she looked no further than the storage units in the Emporium’s back yard.
“It’s kind of like the bank robber who replied to a question about why he robbed banks. That’s where the money was,” observes a visitor.
“That’s right,” laughs Connie. “This is where the glass is.”
Christopher started blowing glass 30 years ago.
She and her current student, Tammy Murray, set up shop to make glass pumpkins for Fall, and all kinds of other, fragile pieces of art.
Connie says of the Spearmans, “They love having artists come in. It’s really becoming an artist community.”
Glass is a strange substance, containing properties of both liquid and solid.
It bends light.
It separates colors.
You can see through it or look at it.
From this spot on the Oklahoma prairie, all things seem possible.
The Art Glass Emporium is exactly 7 miles east of the Highway 33 exit of I-35.
Their website is http://www.stainedglassoklahoma.com