Shopping locally for Christmas presents means supporting local artisans and finding unique gifts for family and friends that are handmade and one-of-a-kind. The Palace in downtown Middlesboro and the Cumberland Gap Artist Co-op have several original options to wrap and put under the tree for the holidays like jewelry, paintings and household arts such as Barbara Murray’s recycled glass bottles.
Murray is a Claiborne County resident and an all-around artist who has worked with several different mediums including pottery, oil and acrylic paints, wire wrapped jewelry and most recently, re-purposed alcohol bottles.
Murray has a kiln which she uses to make pottery; however more recently she has been firing it to 1,500 degrees to melt bottles flat to be used for wall hangings, spoon rests, cheese platters or decorative home art.
“I started experimenting with recycled bottles and it was kind of instant gratification. The first couple of times, I had to find my way to the correct firing schedule. The first time, I had a puddle of glass in the bottom of my kiln so I had to experiment some to get it right,” said Murray.
She continues to work on her painting skills by taking classes from other artists at the co-op, but her artistic side is not limited to the visual arts. Murray studied classical music with clarinet and piano for nearly 20 years.
“As an adult, I’m getting a chance to play around with all of these other art forms and it’s been great. I’ve really tried learning new things and trying out new mediums,” said Murray.
Murray lived the majority of her life in Colorado where she graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in social work. She worked in the restaurant industry for several years in Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia, until she moved to Speedwell in 2003 with her husband Tim of 22 years.
Together, they have rescued several dogs and spent many years doing pet therapy.
In her spare time, Murray teaches a tai chi class in the Middlesboro Mall and says she enjoys the peace it brings her.
Murray’s art is currently being sold at the Cumberland Gap Artists Co-op.
Reach Kelsey Gerhardt at 606-302-9093 or on Twitter @kgerhardtmbdn.