VOYAGE DALLAS MAGAZINE
"Conversations with the Inspiring Leslie Purdy"
Leslie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far:
I jokingly say I have a “party going on in my head” so working with my hands and making art has always been a natural creative release for me. Over the years, I’ve studied and worked in numerous mediums including bronze, granite, clay, paints, and metal.
I was initially intimidated to work with glass, but found the steep learning curve and gorgeous results addictive. Glass allows me to express my love for color and design while creating unique custom works of art to fit any space or occasion.
Since we live in a hi-rise, my husband built a small studio for my kiln in a detached garage at our Austin lake home eight years ago. My tabletop pieces (large bowls/vases/platters) started to sell and through word of mouth, were picked up in retail locations.
Demand led my husband to surprising me with a larger, commercial kiln which allowed me to keep up with orders as well as create large-scale pieces. At that point, I turned my passion into a business and have been filling commissions ever since.
My glass journey has included two full-immersion studies under glass masters at the Pilchuck International Glass School (founded by Dale Chihuly) and hours of personal study and works in my studio. Dallas interior design store Mecox Gardens was instrumental in elevating my exposure to a broader audience. It was a highlight to see one of the vases I made for them published in the April 2017 Traditional Home magazine.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
To me, success is a journey, not a destination. As an empty nester, I’m later than most starting a glass career at this stage of my life. I was a little nervous going to Pilchuck for the first time as I knew I would be the oldest student there. Thank goodness no one saw age, because I was among amazing talents and the young factor was energizing and motivating. I found that surrounding myself with other artists and peers I admire, has helped to build my network and play an important role in my growth.
I think the biggest struggle I’ve had along the way is validation. Rejection is hard, but when it’s right, and you get a great response, it’s very rewarding. My advice to anyone starting out is it’s never too late and don’t give up!
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Leslie Purdy Glass story. Tell us more about the business:
I love the diversity of the objects I can make in glass. I can cast it to make sculptural pieces or create graphic designs in Illustrator, burn the designs onto a screen and then powder print the design onto the glass. It’s a great way to match glass place settings with a tablecloth pattern or create one-of-a-kind designs. My client base is broad, and most of my work is custom. My tabletop pieces are the most popular, but I also enjoy working with interior designers on large-scale glass wall art commissions for their clients.