Life, said the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, is “like a dome of many-coloured glass,” casting hues on the “white radiance of eternity.” No doubt speaking from a philosophical and spiritual perspective, Shelley nevertheless recognized the magical, some might even say mystical, relationship between glass and light.

Shelley was likely inspired by the sight at his local house of worship. And 20th century glass artists such as Tiffany and Lalique fill museums with their collections.

But no longer is art glass confined to ancient cathedrals and echoing museums. Contemporary glass artist Dale Chihuly – he of the wild hair, black eye patch, and big, colorful installations worldwide, including the Dallas Museum of Art – has done for art glass what Pavarotti did for opera: It is fun, it is hip, and it is accessible…particularly in our neighborhood.

Artist Kate Enoire, whose studio is right off Abrams, specializes in custom-fused glass, which can be used as an element in furniture, lighting, windows or architectural glass paneling. Perhaps you’re a homeowner who would enjoy kitchen cupboard doors fronted with colorful, artful glass instead of the standard clear panels. Custom art glass is one way to achieve distinction in a way that many people never consider.

Armed with degrees in art and interior architectural design, Enoire designed and drafted floor plans and dabbled in painting and drawing before discovering her niche in glass several years ago.

“I love the intricacies, cutting and arranging the pieces, the colors,” she says.

Scattered around her studio are several works in progress, all extremely detailed with tiny pieces of cut glass placed just so, like a glass jigsaw puzzle that eventually reveals flowers, insects and other scenes. One of her more original projects is an entertainment center with fused glass doors, the metalwork completed by her partner Matt Cagley.

Enoire, whose prices start at about $200, also has custom-designed and created tiles for the kitchen, bath and fireplace. She says art glass is a paradox: “People perceive it as sacred – it is fragile, but it also conveys a sense of permanence and strength.”

Working with Light / A sense of wonder and almost reverence can also be found at the White Rock Lake-area studio of Kathryn “Kay” Thomas. Exposed to the differing worlds of her dentist father and artist mother, Thomas studied biology in college for a time before trying her hand at glass, and she has never looked back.

“I knew from the day I got into it that it wouldn’t be a passing whim,” says Thomas, who focused mainly on stained glass until a decade ago when she happened to enroll in a fused-glass course. She has created high-profile works such as a Pegasus (at Macy’s in the Galleria) and all of the glass at Ciudad, a trendy restaurant on Oak Lawn. The artist has work at galleries in Santa Fe, Taos and Wimberley, and she creates one-of-a-kind commissioned works.

The artist says her prices range from $75 to $700, though custom work can run much higher. A 20-inch Modrian platter, for instance, sells for about $400.

Color, Color, Color / The road to the art glass world wasn’t a straight and smooth path, but rather a serendipitous detour for Virginia Lindsay, whose studio is just a few blocks away from Thomas’. Lindsay was a dog groomer when a glass artist client offered to teach her about fusing glass. Artistic ability had always come naturally to Lindsay, who was exposed to art early on by a grandmother who doodled, an aunt who designed greeting cards, and a grandfather who painted signs for the Texas Highway Department.

A lifelong creative bent soon became her livelihood, and she formed a glass-blowing company with a partner, later buying him out and forming her own business, L4L, which focuses on fused glass.

Her work, such as coasters, platters and trays, can also be found at the DMA and Kimball gift shops, among others.

True to her company’s catchphrase, “Useful Works of Art,” Lindsay encourages patrons to make good use of her creations – many of her pieces can be used as catch-alls, soap dishes, candle or business card holders; others can be serving dishes or dinnerware – all food-safe, of course. Small ticket items, such as a set of coasters, cost about $60, while something like a large platter usually costs more than $200.

A Stained Radiance / Art glass may hold your soap or serve your salad, but sometimes it is enjoyed as a pure and decorative form. Since 1908, Molloy Mirror & Art Glass Works has served our neighborhood and the rest of the city.

What began as a summer job when he was 16 has become a lifelong business and passion for Jim Prevratil, who bought out the original owners many years ago. Learning the glass trade on-the-job, Prevratil says he worked mostly leaded glass at first, as well as many Tiffany-style lamps. Then he saw a surge in stained glass windows and beveled glass entryways and sidelights.

Prevratil designs and builds all of the original pieces, while staff does most of the repairs and restorations of stained and leaded glass, stemware and crystal. But Prevratil says art glass is only part of their service, and they have a thriving business creating mirrors – the shop’s most popular item now is a distressed mirror.

Molloy Mirror & Glass has loyal customers all over the state, and their work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Southern Accent and Southern Living.

Like No Other / It holds your iced tea. It serves your tuna casserole. It protects you from the Blue Norther while at the same time letting the Texas sun stream in. And it adds elegance and light to a room.

As Lindsay says: “It takes the familiar and stretches it to become something more beautiful and interesting…glass fascinates and surprises us.”