SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - There are dozens of churches in the Ark-La-Tex that showcase beautiful stained glass windows — but there are even fewer places that still know how to make them.
On the corner of Barksdale Boulevard in Bossier City sits one of the few places you can go to make stained glass.
“45 years ago my mom wanted a Tiffany Lamp,” said Eric Allen.
A Tiffany lamp, and a determined husband turned into the start of something Bossier City never really had.
“The company he was buying glass from, the guy said I’m not going to sell it anymore so you should buy it and he financed it for him and that started Ed’s Emporium,” said Eric.
In his 50′s Ed created Ed’s Emporium Art Glass Studio, and soon his wife Carol hopped along for the ride.
“She was his agent, then she became the designer and then she became the manager of the shop,” Eric Allen said. “The whole time she was his director. She kept him in line and made sure what he did was quality work.”
For the last 37 years, Ed’s Emporium has taught thousands of people just what you can do with glass, and so I knew this had to be my next job.
Ed's son Eric, decided to show me how to make glass snowflakes.
First I would pick out 8 colors of glass.Then we’ll clean it and once that’s done we’ll glue the bottom pieces to some paper, and then use hair spray to hold the top pieces of glass together.
We’ll add a few more pieces of glass, and then we’re done.
Eric will then heat one of his kilns up to 1385 degrees, and let my snowflake heat for eight hours, then it will take another eight hours to cool off.
Eric then started telling me about glass blowing, and I knew needed to try that next.
Eric will first fill that glass globen with different colored glass and then we put on our didymium glasses.
The glasses take the yellow out of the flame as we start to heat the glass globen.
Eric will hold the glass globen at the top of the flame and continue rotating it until it gets hot. He’ll mash the top then continue to turn the glass globen, and eventually the pieces of glass inside will start to stick. Once Eric gets it just right he immediately takes it off the flame and begins to blow.
He’ll hurry and place the glass into his turkey roaster that’s full of vermiculite to help keep the glass hot so it won’t break.
As Eric began to help me, I had to know if this skill that he was so good at was something he actually wanted to do.
“I didn’t think I would be here maybe a year before I went back to work because I really didn’t think this was really what I wanted to do,” he said. “Especially 45 years ago I never thought that this would be something I would do…but it’s turned into kind of a career now.”
Eric worked with his parents for ten years before his father passed away first, and then his mother almost a year later.
A big fear the family had was what would happen to their shop?
“What’s happened with these shops is the people were my parents age and there’s nobody to take them over, and they just kind of disappear," he said. "You know the glass gets spread out over the United States and then it’s gone.”
Eric used what he’s learned from his parents to continue creating and teaching people how to learn this craft.
While Ed and Carol are no longer here physically, Eric feels their presence every time he steps into the shop.
“For me everyday walking into this place I’m hanging out with my mom and dad and it chokes me up to watch 43 (Former President George W. Bush) talking about his dad and how he knew right there at the end when he cracked up…I know that’s where my parents are," he said. "They are holding each other’s hands and they’re side by side and they’re looking down looking at the shop and making sure everything’s going good.”
For Eric, he welcomes the opportunity for anyone to come in and learn this skill so that one day they can take over when he leaves, but until that day comes he says he’ll be there.
“I’ll keep the legacy alive, and keep coming up with new classes and ideas, and buying glass, and selling, and tools and everything else.”
Eric teaches a variety of different classes and has projects people can walk in and do. To learn more about the classes he offers, click HERE.
The Bossier Arts Council will present a dual show featuring the legacy works of Ed and Carol. Their artwork will be on display from February 1st, 2019 until March 29, 2019 with the opening reception on February 8th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.