A round blown glass feather ornament by Asheville artist Kyle Keeler of Visionary Glass Art.

Visionary Glass Arts

FEATHER BALLS & ORNAMENTS

Kyle Keeler is the founder of Visionary Glass Arts. Growing up on the plains of Colorado, Kyle learned about hard work and determination. Those values are core to Kyle’s life and glass-blowing, every bit as important as talent.

In 2001, after moving to Fort Collins, Colorado, Kyle was introduced to glass blowing by some local artists. He was immediately enamored. He started working long and hard – taking a few workshops but mostly learning by doing. Relocating to the Appalachian Mountains in 2007, Kyle eventually opened his own studio and business, now run with the help of his wife. These days, they have two young children, a dog, four chickens, and a very busy kiln.

Kyle sells his wide-ranging glasswork all over the region. At Gallery of the Mountains, you’ll find the “feather ball,”  Kyle’s unique glass-encased ornament featuring feathers from peacocks to cockatoos. He uses borosilicate glass, a formula akin to “Pyrex” glass, so these ornaments are virtually unbreakable.

The story behind the feather ball, in a way, sums up this artist’s dedication to his art: “The inspiration for the feather ball came from an experience I had with an unassuming Carolina Wren. After my holiday orders had finished up, I took two months off to remodel my kitchen. Upon returning to the glass studio, I discovered a wren had built a nest in a container on a shelf. I was amazed at how much work this bird had gone through to build her home. For every leaf and pine needle she brought in, she had to fly through my ventilation system, over my workbench littered with glass, and across my studio. I couldn’t imagine how many times she had braved these obstacles to build her nest.

I labored about how to safely move the nest, but I had to return to work. I worked all day and decided to leave the nest where it lay as a reminder of the benefits of her hard work. The next day, I discovered she had returned to her nest and laid an egg … I couldn’t believe it! Again, I felt horrible, assuming she would not return after another full day of me working in the studio and keeping her away. The next day, I discovered another egg had been laid overnight! Two more nights went by, and each morning, I discovered an addition to the next until there were four eggs.”

Long story short, four baby wrens hatched in Kyle’s studio. As did the idea for his wondrous feather balls and ornaments.

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