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Christmas at 2,000 degrees: Art glass gallery lets people create keepsake ornaments

Glassblower Scott Garrelts pulls molten glass from a furnace onto a blowpipe during an ornament-blowing event at Karg Art Glass in Kechi on Saturday. Customers, with the assistance of glassblowers, could make their own Christmas ornaments at the store.
Glassblower Scott Garrelts pulls molten glass from a furnace onto a blowpipe during an ornament-blowing event at Karg Art Glass in Kechi on Saturday. Customers, with the assistance of glassblowers, could make their own Christmas ornaments at the store. The Wichita Eagle

Seven-year-old Isabelle Bevan flashed a wide smile when her grandmother told her the blown-glass ornament she was making was huge.

“I holded it in,” Isabelle said proudly about holding her breath before she blew into a tube to create her Christmas creation at Karg Art Glass Gallery in Kechi.

Tammy Bevan brought three of her grandchildren – Isabelle, 10-year-old Nolan and 9-year-old Bailey – to the gallery Saturday to make blown-glass ornaments.

“For the price, I don’t think you can get more entertainment for these little ones,” Tammy Bevan said. “They are so excited. I’m going to have to bring my other grandchildren here.”

Karg Art Glass has been inviting people to create their own ornaments for the past five years.

Five glassblowers were on hand Saturday to turn bits of glass into keepsake ornaments.

“It’s a really great family affair,” said Patti Karg, whose husband, Rollin, is the main artist at the gallery.

For $25 (plus tax), people can pick out up to four colors and make a speckled or solid round ornament.

The glass-blowing sessions for the public are popular, especially around the holidays, Karg said. The most visitors made in one day was 158. The line Saturday was steady as people signed up to give the art form a try.

“We’ve got from kids to grandparents,” Karg said.

The gallery tries to keep the activity limited to people age 5 and up, but they’ll make exceptions if a younger child has good lungs.

Each participant gets to blow into a tube – the tip of which is sterilized for every customer. Glassblowers handle the heat. The glass gets up to 2,000 degrees as they’re working with it.

Ornaments go into a 990-degree oven and are ready to take home about 48 hours later. Ornaments made Saturday will be available Monday, Karg said.

“Our blowers put on the hook,” she said. “That’s the hardest part.”

The hooks are formed from glass.

Camille Snyder brought two children and one of their friends to make ornaments Saturday.

Elizabeth, 10, chose rainbow-colored glass for a speckled ornament.

She was eagerly awaiting her turn.

Elizabeth said making an ornament was fun because “it’s kind of like a bubble, but it’s glass!”

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SGCountyDeb.

Make your own ornament

Karg Art Glass Gallery at 61st Street North and Oliver in Kechi offers glass-blowing sessions for people to make Christmas ornaments. The schedule through the end of the year is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and Dec. 29 and 30.

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