FROM WINSTON-SALEM MONTHLY MAGAZINE'S DECEMBER 2009 ISSUE
Photo: Jay Sinclair
A Crystal Canvas
By Lauren Rippey Eberle
Kristin Shamel-Arsenault, owner of The Gilded Touch, will be the first to admit she isn’t inventing the wheel. “There are a lot of painted glasses out there. But,” she quickly continues, “you can’t beat the personal touch of working with a local artist.”
Customer service is her priority: She treats patrons as friends, taking great pleasure in ensuring they’re pleased with their purchase. “It makes me happy to know I’ve made someone else happy,” she says. It’s an easy feat, considering the creative artistry behind each painted creation.
Though she admits to always having an eye for color and design, Shamel-Arsenault didn’t pursue her talents until 1993, when she was looking for a business she could run out of her home while raising two young boys. “I think I’ve always had creativity in me, I just had to find the right time to express myself.”
The Gilded Touch — dubbed for the touch of gold or bronze she adds to almost every work she completes — began with glass ornaments, then expanded to include custom floral design, furniture painting, and faux finishing.
In 2004, Shamel-Arsenault married and moved to St. John, where she sold island-themed ornaments to local shops and the St. Thomas Ritz Carlton. But when she returned to her hometown, Winston-Salem’s area vineyards inspired her to focus on wine glasses.
A perfectionist when it comes to tools and methods, Shamel-Arsenault uses a nontoxic, dishwasher-safe paint from France that gives a stained-glass look to the completed work. The finish is then baked on in a traditional oven.
Carried in a number of local wineries and boutiques, the glasses have also found national fame through her Web site. Just recently, she completed a custom order for 12 glasses for a wedding reception in Georgia. The bride was so taken by Shamel-Arsenault’s charm that she even invited the artist to the wedding. Other projects include Birthday Girl glasses, golf-themed pilsners, and champagne flutes.
“My mother always told me to fill my soul and do something that I love,” she recalls. “I’m doing just that.”