Posted on 27 December 2014.
Myrt Totty spends about half of her time creating art in her chosen medium – glass.
It gives her a break from hairstyling.
And hairstyling, she notes, gives her a break from art.
BIG WINNER – Myrt Totty’s glass artwork earned high praise at the State Fair of Texas, winning second in designer/craftsman competition and an honorable mention. Messenger photo by Bob Buckel
Her salon, the Hair Hut, on Farm Road 718 in Newark, is a good place to display her work, get ideas from customers and talk about her art.
“Sometimes you’ll come in and somebody has set empty liquor bottles all over my counter,” she laughs. “I wonder ‘What’s everybody thinking?'”
But those who know her know she can always use colorful, interesting glass. Maybe they’ve seen the spoon holder she made from a wine bottle, or one of her mosaics, or a marble, a dish or one of her glass flower arrangements.
At the State Fair of Texas a couple of months ago, it’s a good bet thousands of people saw her work. The Newark resident won a second place ribbon in the Designer/Craftsman section with her flamework glass sculpture of a vase of blossoms, and an honorable mention with a fused-glass plate she calls “Saving Mother Earth.”
“With the State Fair you can only enter two pieces in a category,” she said. “This was my first time to enter, so being able to win something with both, that was exciting.
“Glass is an interesting thing,” she said.
Myrt hasn’t had a TV in 27 years. Instead, she works in her studio or her husband’s shop – and studies constantly to learn more about the technical side of glass art.
“I go to bed every night with a book,” she said. “I’m just constantly reading and taking classes.”
She’s been an artist all her life – several of her paintings adorn the walls of her house – but since 2007 she’s been working in glass, moving from one form to another as she explores the medium.
“My father was military,” she said. “When I really learned to love glass was in Europe – the stained-glass cathedrals, as a child, just fascinated me.”
She started in stained glass, creating mosaics, and her first piece placed in a competition. It hangs in a window now.
“The reason I liked mosaics so well is that you don’t have a pattern,” she said. “You have to just make it and flow as it goes.”
After several years, she “got hooked on the torch” and began creating a different type of piece – flower arrangements in glass which mimic forsythia, cherry blossoms and dogwoods on delicate copper stems. She also makes glass rings, earrings, brooches and other jewelry.
“I’m kind of AD/HD, so I like the spontaniety of it,” she said.
She has a kiln and some of her work, like the wine-bottle spoon holder and the “Mother Earth” plate, requires that heat to take form. But the patience and preparation that takes is “sometimes is a little slow” for her.
“There’s so many things you can do with glass,” she said. “Glass is just a medium that we keep pushing and every day you wake up there’s a new tool, someone has invented a new thing.”
She said most glass artists develop a technique, then teach, or make materials and tools that others can use. That provides the additional income that allows them to live off their trade – since selling art in today’s economy is at best, a hit-or-miss proposition.
But Myrt sells quite a few pieces, and creates unique pieces for customers who order them.
“A lot of artists hone in on one aspect of the field,” she said. “I’m blessed in that my husband has bought the tools and given me the support that I have been able to run the full gamut with glass. It can require a lot of equipment.”
Her husband, Don, knows where to look if a tool goes missing. Myrt scavenges his truck and uses the grinding tools and drill presses in his shop. He even bought her the sandblaster that allowed her to finish the “Mother Earth” plate.
The one thing he doesn’t have to worry about? Keeping her busy.