Eye magnets is a good way to describe Tejas deco Art's vibrantly colored glass art.
In fact, the pigskin glass pieces are so mesmerizing that Robert Ornelas, one of the company's co-owners, couldn't get them out of his mind after seeing them for the first time.
Ornelas and his wife were at an outdoor art show near their home in Texas when they met Manuel Silva, the artist.
"We knew we liked it the minute we saw it," Ornelas said of the round, square, rectangular and oval glass plates. "It took us an hour to pick one."
Ornelas kept in touch with Silva and a few years later they decided to become partners and expand the business. Silva remains the primary artist while Ornelas handles the business and marketing aspects.
Silva learned the art from his family and has been making pigskin glass pieces for about 25 years. He is a third-generation artist and learned the craft in southern Mexico, where he was born; it is a family tradition.
The art was very popular in Mexico in the 1960s, but faded from the scene about 20 years ago.
To create the pieces, Silva places a screen mesh in a mold. Then, he applies a reflective foil and colorful paints, which is topped by glass. The piece is fired in a kiln, where the heat causes the colors to mix and slumps the glass to seal everything together.
According to Ornelas, the art is called pigskin glass because it used to have pig skin glued to the back to cover the burnt look that resulted from the firing process. Today, however, instead of the pig skin, the backs are painted black.
"We're making the world a little prettier one plate at a time," he said.
Not only is the glass beautiful to look at, it's environmentally friendly as well.
Ornelas said the art is created out of recycled window glass and water-based paint.
The completed plates are priced from about $14 to $150. Ornelas said it is important to them that their art remains affordable.
Most of the pieces have built-in hangers on the back so they can be displayed. A few are made with rubber feet so they can be placed on a tabletop. Although the bigger pieces can be used as platters, Ornelas said that use should be limited because that glass is less than one-eighth of an inch thick and could crack if something is dropped on it.
"The small ones can be used as a soap dish in a powder room or as a coin or candy dish," he said.
The company's glass has been featured at By Design, 6680 W. Flamingo Road, 251-7080, and Furniture Market, 6675 S. Eastern Ave., 436-3960.
Purchases also can be made by contacting Ornelas directly at 832-567-1661 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tejas deco Art displays its wares at World Market Center Las Vegas and will be returning to the area May 31 through June 2 for the American Craft Retailers Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center.