DENHAM SPRINGS -- Paintings of different sizes cover the walls from ceiling to floor, some of landscapes, some of wildlife, and others of people.
Hanging from the ceilings throughout the building are uniquely-made stained glass wind chimes, which jingle anytime someone enters the front door.
Arranged on shelves are numerous seasonal ornaments, which Ellen Feehan-Gray makes by hand, along with an assortment of jewelry that can be found in glass display cases throughout the shop.
Greeting people in the front windows are some of Feehan-Gray’s favorite stained glass pieces, which she meticulously brings to life in a back room in the shop.
There’s something for everyone at M’Lou Stained Glass & Art, located at the corner of Mattie Street and N. Range Avenue in the Denham Springs Antique Village. Featuring the work of more than a dozen artists, there’s plenty for visitors to look at, ask questions about, and take home for their own collections.
“We like to say we have something for everybody,” Feehan-Gray said.
Feehan-Gray, a native of Long Island, New York, is in her fourth year running the shop in downtown Denham Springs, though her life has had as much variety as the art in her beloved studio.
She operated a dairy farm in upstate New York for 16 years, drove a school bus when her children were young, went back to college to study civil engineering once her children were grown, moved to Louisiana for a job in Garyville, and retired to take care of her mother after a scary fall.
But art was always something she was interested in, though her mother advised against it — even going so far as to forbid her high school guidance counselor from scheduling any art classes for Feehan-Gray.
She didn’t think her daughter could make a living that way.
“My mom told the guidance counselor, ‘No way, she’s too smart,’” she recalled with a laugh. “But in my senior year, she didn’t go to the guidance counselor, so I got to take three art classes, history, and English.”
After retiring, Feehan-Gray wanted to find something to pass the time, even taking a painting class at a nearby Hobby Lobby to rekindle her love for art. She quickly outgrew the class and began making ornaments, and she soon needed somewhere to display her art.
That’s when she entered what is now M’Lou Stained Glass & Art, which at the time was owned by Denise Hall. Feehan-Gray started as an intern, running the shop on weekends to pay for rent space for her handmade ornaments.
“And I mean ‘intern,’” she said emphatically. “No pay.”
But one day, Hall asked Feehan-Gray if she wanted to learn how to make stained glass art. Having never done it, she agreed to the free lessons, and quickly went from being an amateur to a pro.
“All the glass in here is done by me,” Feehan-Gray said, waving a hand across her studio.
Feehan-Gray took over the studio when Hall moved out of state, and now she has the work of 15 artists hanging in her studio. Feehan-Gray also has her own work, including stained glass, ornaments, and paintings. She makes the stained glass pieces at the studio and paints at her home in Walker.
Besides selling art, she repairs stained glass pieces and also teaches stained glass classes in her studio by appointment, offering classes for beginners and more advanced pupils. On Tuesdays, a group of local artists gathers in her studio to work on their own pieces, painting diligently at easels set up throughout the shop, even while customers come in and out.
“People will stop and ask questions of the artists, which is kind of neat,” Feehan-Gray said. “It’s very different here.”
M’Lou Stained Glass & Art, located at 125 N. Range Avenue, is open from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 12-4 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call (409) 392-4281.