I first learned to cut glass at the age of 16 in my eldest brother’s stained glass studio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Coming from a family of artists and craftsmen, my father built a large studio behind our home for my mother’s ceramics/pottery studio and my brother’s stained glass classes. I studied glass design and technique with my brother until I left to attend college at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. My early glass works reflected my interest in nature and classical ballet.
My first career as an artist was in classical ballet. After receiving my B. F. A. in ballet from T.C.U. I danced professionally with several ballet companies and musical theater productions touring the country. I moved to Austin and danced with Ballet Austin. I served as artistic director of the Austin Contemporary Ballet and Texas Youth Ballet for eight years. As an Artist in Residence for The Texas Commission on the Arts I worked with dance companies throughoutTexas.
During my travels as a dancer/choreographer I would set up a table for stained glass in the corner of my room to create new works. I created glass art for friends and clients throughout the country. A Jacksonville, Florida beach house features an Art Deco style Flamingo and Beach window installed while dancing with Florida Ballet. Other window installations inspired by love of classical ballet include: Nutcracker themed windows in Fort Worth, Texas; The White Swan window in Los Angeles; Le Corsair windows in Salt Lake City; and Don Quixote in Austin.
My “Glass Gardens” series is the subject of windows
in the Austin Historic Landmark Adkins-Tharp Home.
After ballet and living through a disabling illness I found more time to explore my love for antiques, glass and drawing. My backyard studio was first equipped for antiques restoration as I worked part-time for a friend’s antiques business, Silkwater Antiques. Gradually the dedicated work space for stained glass production outgrew the antiques restoration area and Randall’s Stained Glass Studio was established- www.randallsoileau.com. I still do antique restoration and my glass works are often for sale at theAntique Marketplace Gallery at 5806 Burnet Road in Austin.
My design work reflects the formal and informal training in the arts from university and college classes to knowledge gained from museums and historic sites toured throughout my dance career. Besides my training with my brother, I worked with Austin artist Damian Priour in his early stained glass studio in town. I was introduced to Damian at a Ballet Austin function when he served as a member of the board of directors. We shared our love of stained glass and he graciously invited me to work in his studio.
In working with glass as a medium I enjoy the challenge of the devolution of a drawing to its essential form, relying on the simplest line to depict a subject. I recognize the boundaries of designing for glass and attempt to exceed them. I work in both the Tiffany copper-foil technique and lead came technique- often designing to combine both in one piece.
A most critical moment of the design process is choosing glass for the artwork. Color, gradation and consistency of color, texture, transparency, grain, and surface luster are characteristics I consider for each piece of the glass puzzle. I often rely on salvaged antique glass or glass that I have been saving for years for the right project.
My glass work, like many artists’, is a reflection of my environment and current interest. My own garden and botanical specimens serve as models for my “Glass Gardens” series. Texas landscapes are executed in an Arts and Crafts style. The ballet-inspired “Dancer in Glass” series are designed with Art Deco or Victorian style frames. Traditional windows reflect the history of glass designs. Modern geometric based designs explore the intersection of mathematics and art.