Exquisite Glass Art from One Eared Glass Cow

One-of-a-Kind Pieces since 1991

Article by Julie Brown Patton

Photography by Courtesy One Eared Glass Cow

Originally published in Lake Murray Lifestyle

Tucked within Columbia's downtown historic Vista is a magical place at which new and delicate items are created each day. It's a place that draws art enthusiasts into its core, embracing and embodying their admiration for one-of-a-kind creations. 

Handblown glass treasures have put the One Eared Glass Cow Inc. studio and gallery on the map of marvelous art finds since 1991. 

"We cater to what customers need or want, along with providing unique, high quality and affordable blown glass art," says founder and chief executive officer Tom Lockart, a former University of South Carolina art student.

Among the studio's glass gems can be found acorns, bird feeders, bowls, chandeliers, glasses, floor lamps, flowers, lighting, leaves, ornaments, outdoor art paperweights, sculptures and wine stoppers. Of course, South Carolina-specific items, such as palmetto trees, magnolia, pineapples, the crescent, pine cones, the Carolina Jessamine, cotton bolls and magnolia seed pods, also are created by born and raised Southern artists.

Coming from a drawing and painting background, Tom expanded into glass art while at USC, even becoming a teacher's assistant for that program. "I had no idea glass art existed there to the extent it did, and this program was only offered for about five years. But it was an art form that quickly caught my interest and became a passion," he adds. 

When the USC program ended, Tom and two other art graduates started their own glass art studio in a former tractor building in the middle of a cotton field owned by a relative. While cleaning out the building, Tom says they discovered a hand-carved, wooden cow's head with one ear missing. "It was a treasure from the past, and we certainly appreciated who must have created it and wondered so much about its purpose, it became our choice of a company name," he says. 

Tom and his team create the true handblown glass art, using long blowpipes and sculpting colors in one at a time. He says the process is a bit like blowing bubblegum. 

"There's a long learning curve to handmade glass art. You typically try to get good at making one type of object without breaking it, then move on to the next object. But each day of creation is different," explains Tom. "We're dealing with a lot of physics, which we can see happening, but can't always control. We work with different temperatures, gravity and various cooling times, all which can crack glass."

After breakage, he says some glass items can be recycled, particularly the clear parts. However, if colors or patterns already have been added, reheating them reuse becomes trickier or impossible. 

Some of the most unusual glass pieces Tom makes are related to memorials for humans and animals. Some of the cremated remains can be added to glass as an organic material and forever captured as heart connections to loved ones. Tom says one of the most satisfying, but emotionally draining projects, came from working with a father who asked for an urn to be created for his dying daughter. "From the hospital, the young lady was involved with creating the urn, and the father took our plans and worked back and forth to get her feedback. We had a lot on the line. She was extremely satisfied with the totally unique piece, and that was our true reward. It was a very honorable project."

Tom creates other commissioned sales, based on people's space and desired uses. "It's fun to be creative and create art from scratch, even after 30 years," he assures. 

For Valentine's Day in particular, he says their glass flowers, especially roses and tulips, are popular for gifts. "We have quite a few heart-shaped art items, as well as ring holders that people like to give," he adds. 

Tom affirms that visitors are always welcome to watch them create their works. "We're a small, family-based business, and this community has been really supportive of us. Repeat business is phenomenal and we're still growing. Part of our unique offering is our custom work. We will stop and discuss specifics with customers, working with them to create exactly what they envision."

The One Eared Glass Cow gallery is open year-round Monday through Friday (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Saturdays (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)


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