During their first year in business, co-owners and married couple Michael Brown and Sally Moore have fused decades of art training and corporate experience to transform a simple office building and garage into a glassblowing studio.
After years of teaching design and art classes at Lone Star College-Tomball and other nearby schools, Michael said he decided to leave academia and pursue art full-time in early 2014. With the help of family members, the couple opened industrial art studio and gallery Three Dimensional Visions last April in Tomball.
"I basically switched gears around 2001 because I had been doing welding and metal sculptures, but then after completing my [master's degree] and postgrad work I became interested in glass," Michael said. "It's still a work in progress, but if you don't have some kind of evolution going on, you're stuck."
The studio offers a number of classes to teach the art of glassblowing in mediums ranging from traditional bowls and vases to abstract sculptures for a cost of $32 to about $200, Michael said. Reservations for classes can be made online through the studio's website.
On Sundays the studio hosts a "Make-a-Something" 30-minute class for $32 to $35 geared toward new customers looking to learn basic glassblowing techniques. In the classes customers are able to create a small piece of their own design under the close supervision of an instructor, Michael said.
For more experienced glassblowers the studio offers a 90-minute class ranging from $200 and up for creating larger, more complex pieces. Michael said one of the most exciting aspects about glassblowing is the creative process.
"Over the years I've found out that glass is such a [flexible] medium, [and] it reflects whoever's working on it," Michael said. "Each person is a little different. It depends on what your end goal is. Are you going to make a pitcher, [which is] something more functional? Or [will it be] more intrinsic or artistic?"
To establish a balance between business and art, Michael relies on his wife and son to help run the studio. Moore worked at ExxonMobil for more than 30 years and brings ideas and experience to the business and marketing side of the studio. In addition to running an art gallery on the property, Moore teaches weekly classes on jewelry making.
"It takes a couple of hours, but [the people who take the class] walk away with three to four pieces of jewelry that they've designed and made," Michael said.
The couple's son, Patrick Brown, works at the studio as the head gaffer, or glassblower, and coordinates with studio assistant Mike DeMarse to create many of the colorful and imaginative pieces in the gallery.
"[Glassblowing] is very much a team effort," Patrick said. "There are very few people who can actually do this by themselves and even fewer who are actually successful at it."
The studio is available for corporate team-building events and is planning to host summer camps. The studio sees an estimated 30 to 40 customers each week, but Moore said she hopes word of mouth will continue to bring in new business.
"We are an open-access studio—that means you can come by anytime [during business hours] and see what we're doing," Moore said. "Right now we call ourselves a destination location because we get a lot of people coming in from outside the area and even from out of state. We'd like to see more people from Tomball."