FT. PAYNE, AL (WAFF) - A centuries old practice is a modern day form of art.
Handmade, blown glass with its many textures and colors can be considered fruit for the soul. That's certainly true when you visit the gallery atop Lookout Mountain in Northeastern Alabama, near Fort Payne. Christy Breed is the co-owner of Orbix and wife to chief designer Cal Breed.
Breed said her husband hand makes and designs all the glass work.
She said they looked at settling in bigger cities, but chose an area on top of a mountain near Fort Payne because of the natural resources. Many of those resources have found their way into the creative process.
"Cal is very good with color and how it's going to be and how the end result with the color is going to be," added Christy.
People drive for miles to get a glimmer of how light meets art. In the gallery you will find pieces with different thicknesses, and textures which bend the light.
"It's a difficult material. It's not very forgiving. And so it takes a long time to really master it," said Christy.
Sculptures are the most challenging, involving several people and up to two days. Small intricate pieces are melded together.
"It takes a lot of time. First you have to remember what does a human face look like and then to make it out of glass is very difficult, and you really only get one shot, you can't try again."
Cracks can be heart breaking because they have no choice but to scrap it and start again. During the creative process, the glass can be reused. The hot shop is where science meets art and beauty begins. Ovens are a constant 2000 degrees. That keeps the glass in a thick liquid state and ready to be transformed.
A hollow pole retrieves the molten glass and it's blown, heated and shaped by the artist. It's constantly turning, goes back into the fire several times and is worked into a mold. That gives the distinctive swirl for the aquamarine Roxy pitcher. The "lip" is gently laid and shaped. And the curved handle is one of the last steps before the semi finished product is given a signature stamp and placed into a kiln for the night. The pitcher will join other pieces in the gallery.
"These pieces on the wall are called our wall flowers. These came about a year and a half ago. A lot of people wanted wall pieces," said Christy.
There are numerous stories about the artist and his craft in magazines like Southern Living to Oprah's O Magazine.