Artist Nancy Yarbrough’s Fused Glass & Watercolor World

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Originally published in Heart of Texas Magazine

Born in Oklahoma City, this Texas Hill Country artist now calls Boerne home. Boerne is 30 miles northwest of San Antonio, and for any non-Texans out there, it’s pronounced Burney. Due to the captivating countryside, the Boerne area attracts a treasure trove of unique artists, and Nancy Yarbrough is one of them.  Nancy says, “The beauty of God’s creation is a constant source of inspiration for my work.”

Nancy’s art is exceptional. She paints fused glass. Literally, she paints with glass. She buys glass in sheet form and also purchases it in a ground-up form called frits. Frits are tiny pieces of glass. Imagine ground glass being applied to glass, and you’ll have a general idea of how Nancy produces her art. Nancy carefully applies the minuscule frits to a sheet of glass and then fires the work-in-progress in a kiln. Depending on what Nancy has in mind for the finished product, kiln temperatures range between 1250-1500 degrees. Nancy works in layers, building one glass layer at a time. Each layer goes into the kiln, and some pieces may have as many as eight layers. Additional layers make the piece appear more three dimensional. With heat, the particles of glass melt together to form a solid sculpture.

Artist Nancy Yarbrough's Fused Glass & Watercolor World

Photo: Yarbrough Fused Glass Poppies

Stained glass was her first medium, and then Yarborough entered the world of watercolor. From watercolor, she migrated to fused glass. In the Carriage House Gallery of Artists in Boerne, you’ll find her fused glass sculptures and watercolors.

Yarbrough has two studios in her home: a small painting studio for watercolor and a larger one for glass. Her home is not open to the public; however, by appointment, she can make arrangements for someone to watch as she works. Now and then, she’ll host a girl’s get-together and let everyone play with glass. Imagine the fun that would be!

Artist Nancy Yarbrough's Fused Glass & Watercolor World

Photo: Nancy Yarbrough photo by E. Castle Photography& Fine Art

Nancy has taught classes, but at this time in her life, she prefers to merely create art and spend time with her grandchildren.

The Yarbroughs have three married sons and seven grandchildren. The youngest son and family live in Boerne, but when all the family members are home, they try to have a group picture made on Yarbrough property.

How did this family originate? If you guess a blind date, you’d be correct. Nancy and a friend had summer jobs in downtown Dallas. On a whim, Nancy asked the friend if she knew a guy she could date. Her friend knew a guy—her brother! Her current sister-in-law made plans for Stephen to meet Nancy. Stephen was in Dallas planning to attend dental school. Six months later, that blind date ended with marriage. Now, forty-six years down the road, they continue to grow their family.

Artist Nancy Yarbrough's Fused Glass & Watercolor World

Photo: Nancy Yarbrough

After four years of dental school, Stephen Yarbrough moved to Lake Jackson, and of course, he took his wife with him. The family lived there for 35 years while Stephen practiced dentistry, but they grew tired of hurricanes. They’d always planned to live in Boerne, and six years ago, that day finally arrived.

As a mother and homemaker in Lake Jackson, Nancy continued to be drawn to art. She’d always sketched and had been an art minor at Stephen F. Austin. When the last son drove off to college, Nancy decided to learn more about watercolor and attended class to absorb new techniques.

The Hill Country inspires her with the beauty of granite rocks, lush hills, and bountiful native plants. Where does she find ideas? The answer is everywhere. Nancy takes photographs of vistas and then watercolors the scene on heavy paper mounted to a backer board. Her latest project is illustrating in watercolor a children’s book, Sweet Child of Mine, written by her daughter-in-law.

Artist Nancy Yarbrough's Fused Glass & Watercolor World

Photo: Nancy Yarbrough

After diving into watercolor, Nancy grew enamored with fused glass, and her sculptures amaze enthusiasts. For instance, in her representation of poppies, Nancy began by cutting the flowers from glass, and then she painted with the diminutive, glass powder until all glass and colors fused together. These sculptures capture the imagination of the onlooker. Yarbrough rarely works on assignment. She says, “It’s hard to take another’s idea and develop it into art.”

Even though she began life in Oklahoma, Yarbrough considers herself Texan. She loves Texas people and says, “We’re so friendly down here. People open up and easily talk to each other.  We have a love for God and country.” She identifies with the state motto, “Friendship.”  Her much-loved food is Mexican, and her least favorite detail about Texas is the heat.

Artist Nancy Yarbrough's Fused Glass & Watercolor World

Photo: Nancy Yarbrough by Castle Arts Entertainment

Yarbrough’s work is shown at the Carriage House Gallery of Artists in Boerne. While visiting the gallery, you’ll find Nancy has provided take-home, affordable art. Nancy’s miniature watercolors come in a variety of sizes for $50. Glass is expensive to work with and requires a large investment, but watercolor is more reasonable. Nancy’s miniatures are the perfect memento from the Texas Hill Country.

Nancy Yarbrough’s life is filled with adventure. She not only sculps with glass and paints with watercolors, but she and Stephen take care of goats. Yes, indeed, she’s a unique Texas Hill Country artist with 17 baby goats in the backyard.

Nancy is on the leadership team for the Hill Country Charity Art Show in Boerne, Texas, on October 12-13. She’d love to see you. Visit Follow Nancy on Facebook, or email her at [email protected] Visit Carriage House Gallery here.