Jewelry, Stained Glass and More
Story by Carolyn Mann Morehead • jewelry photos Korczynski's Photography
When we think of glass we often have thoughts of dinnerware, wine glasses, windows and a variety of other common household items. But for one local couple, glass takes on a whole different meaning.
GIL and beth Riedesel moved back to the area to live on their family property east of Yorktown eleven years ago. Both of them had the privilege of growing up in Yorktown and graduating from the local high school. Gil graduated from Yorktown High School in 1971 and made his way to the University of Texas becoming an electrical engineer. Beth graduated from Yorktown High School in 1977 and attended the University of Texas and Sam Houston State University. In 1979 they married and started raising a family. “She hooked me because she couldn’t make a limeade the right way.” Jokes Gil. Gil worked for years with a company based in Colorado and although his career as an electrical engineer raised his family, this local Yorktown native has a unique and artistic passion. Through the years Gil Riedesel has become known as The Glass Dude.
IN 1979 Gil started working with stained glass and making stained glass windows. Beautiful stained glass panels decorate their home and those of others. Over the years, however, the stained glass has taken a back seat somewhat as he began to make unique creations with glass pieces. In 2014 Beth purchased a kiln for Gil and this is when he began fusing glass. Fused glass is an ancient process where the glass has been fired (heat-processed) in a kiln at high temperatures ranging from 1099 degrees Fahrenheit to 1501 degrees or even higher. Bowls, pendants, ear rings, starfish, wine bottle serving dishes and various other ornate pieces are just a few of the items in their inventory. Each item is a real work of art and no two pieces of any of their items are the same. Each piece is one of a kind.
The chemistry behind the work that he does is fascinating. “With fusing, you can’t just mix any kind of glass together.” States Gil. “It has to be compatible.” Different types of glass contain different types of metal and the presence of these metals combined with other elements such as heat bring out the beautiful features of the glass in each piece. Mixing incompatible glass can result in breaking immediately or even after time sitting on a shelf. For each type of work, many steps are involved which include stacking, heating and cooling processes. For some pieces the process becomes more complicated and time consuming, but the end result is a beautiful, one of a kind work of art.
FOR Gil and Beth, this fascination with glass not only became a passion but has now turned into a business. “What happened was I just started playing and started making stuff and all of a sudden Beth couldn’t consume all the things I was making…if I’m going to keep playing we need to start selling.” As a result, the couple attends 10 to 12 arts and craft shows a year in the fall to sell their wares. From Corpus Christi to Austin and many places in between, the Riedesels know what towns like what items and they endeavor to have the products available to meet their customers desires. They also have some of their pieces for sale in various art locations in Rockport and Corpus Christi.
WITH each passing year, the Riedesels learn different techniques and use new creative ideas to incorporate into their work. Beth is currently hoping to become more skillful at wire wrapping this year to enhance their jewelry work. In addition to the glass work, Gil also does some woodwork projects such as baptismal chests. The beauty of all these special works of art is stunning and after seeing the work of the Glass Dude you will never look at glass the same.
Video Glass Dude!