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The Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach

Posted by on July 28, 2014

glassblowing illustrationThe glass blower carefully placed the stick with the hot glob of glass perched on the end into the blazing oven and twirled it carefully, carefully trying to get it to just the right size, consistency, and temperature. Those of us watching, including two small blonde little girls, waited quietly to see what would emerge from the oven.

We were all in a small audience seated on wooden benches in the open air Hot Shop of the Coastal Arts Center in Orange Beach where glass blowers not only create amazing works of art but cheerfully demonstrate their amazing abilities to anyone who would like to watch.

I was at the Coastal Arts Center for the morning to check out this interesting place. Located right on Wolf Bay which provides an amazingly scenic venue, the Center is actually located in what was the city’s first hotel. Built in 1923, the hotel featured 11 bedrooms and one half bath upstairs (imagine sharing that bathroom!) while the family that owned the hotel lived downstairs. With no roads in the area, guests accessed the charming hotel via boat on the canal. In the late 1940’s, Canal Road was completed and provided easier access.

The hotel was taken over by the Friends of the Arts nonprofit group and became an Orange Beach city facility in 2013. The city still works with the Friends of the Arts to make the center an interesting place for patrons of the arts. “The Mission of the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach is to enrich the experience of our community and the experience of our visitors through educational and interactive experiences and the exhibition of fine arts. The Center cherishes its place in the rich history of our region while bringing new and innovative ideas in the arts all in a warm and welcoming environment.”

It was a beautiful summer day and the perfect time to visit the center.

The Coastal Arts Center

The Coastal Arts Center

The Hot Shop is where Adam Burges, the glass artist in residence, demonstrates his glass blowing expertise. Adam is a recent sculpture graduate from the University of South Alabama and drawing and painting on glass allows him to personalize his works of art with his own original imagery. Established in 2009, the Hot Shop is the only public access glass studio in Alabama. In addition to demonstrations, they offer glass blowing lessons, field trips, and public art exhibitions.

Adam working with the hot glass.

Adam working with the hot glass.

Adam working with glass.

Shaping the hot glass.

Explaining the process to a captive audience.

Explaining the process to a captive audience.

I got a short video of Adam working just to give you an idea of what glass blowing is like. It was too noisy to pick up any audio.

 After spending a sufficient amount of time being amazed by the glass blowing, I headed to the Clay Studio for a demonstration by Abby Leach, a Birmingham native who graduated from the University of Montevallo with a degree in Art, mainly concentrating on clay and sculpture. Abby offers classes in hand building with clay, wheel throwing, and mold making as well as field trips and parties.

Abby weighing the clay.

Abby weighing the clay.

Getting the clay ready for the wheel.

Getting the clay ready for the wheel.

I got some video of Abby working to show just how much work and talent goes into making pottery.

In the main building is an extensive gallery of work for sale by local and regional artists. All artwork is available for purchase.

Beautiful artwork for sale.

Beautiful artwork for sale.

Stroll through the rooms full of art and you will end up on the back screened-in porch which leads to the lovely back yard on the bay.

Screened in porch view.

Screened in porch view.

Walkway to the back yard.

Walkway to the back yard.

 

View of the bay.

View of the bay.

 

 

Another back yard view.

Another back yard view.

 

Dolphin sculpture.

Dolphin sculpture.

What a great place for a wedding or outdoor event, which they do indeed offer!

The next time you are in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, take a morning or afternoon to stop by the Coastal Arts Center. Take a class, spend some time watching the artists at work, or pick up a piece of original art to take home. It’s a great way to spend a little time away from the beach – and take home a truly unique souvenir!

 

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11 Responses to The Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach

  1. Irene S. Levine

    What a beautiful home for local artisans!
    Irene S. Levine recently posted..Win an Eagle Creek Adventure four-wheel carry-on (contest ends 8/31/14)

  2. Betsy Wuebker

    Love the talent you featured in this post. We’ve not been to Gulf Shores yet, but it’s on our mainland bucket list!
    Betsy Wuebker recently posted..Grand Breakfast Budapest Style

  3. noel

    What a gorgeous center,I would love to visit this place and check out all those artists!
    noel recently posted..Plaza de Espana, Seville – Travel Photo Mondays

  4. Cathy Sweeney

    I’m amazed by glass blowers! Took a tour of the Waterford Crystal factory in Ireland where we got to see them working. The Coastal Arts Center looks like a lovely place to watch and learn. As you said, it also looks like a fab place for events.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Discovering Nova Scotia Wine and Food

  5. Suzanne Fluhr

    Seeing the potter at work reminded me of my father who taught ceramics for over 30 years at various community arts centers. Such a center is a boon to any community. I find watching glass blowers to be mesmerizing.
    Suzanne Fluhr recently posted..Montecristo (and His People) Visit Brigantine and Philadelphia

  6. Donna Janke

    I love watching glass blowers and I love blown-glass art. This location is also beautiful. Great place to see the artists.

  7. Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it

    It would be difficult for my husband to get me away from the shop with all those beautiful glass pieces. I love your tours and wouldn’t it be fun to try those projects too?
    Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it recently posted..We Found A Second Niagara Falls Out West

  8. Johanna

    Wow, what a fabulous centre and the location is awesome. It would be hard to get me out of the shop, but then that scenery … sigh! (Thank you, by the way, for popping over to my Travel blog ZigaZag yesterday, much appreciated.)
    Johanna recently posted..7 Style Tips for dressing well after 50

  9. Marilyn Jones

    I was just there in December; a great destination!

  10. Carole Terwilliger Meyers

    It is always interesting to watch glass-blowing. I’ve been to several places on the Oregon Coast where it is possible to do it yourself!
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers recently posted..Things to Do: Kilohana Plantation, Kauai, Hawaii

  11. Michelle

    This looks like so much fun and is in such a beautiful place. My daughter lives in Alabama and I think she would enjoy this as much a I would!
    Michelle recently posted..Desperately Seeking Sunsets in Santorini

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