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Birds of a Feather

Saturday, December 2nd marks our Annual Staff Art Show & Holiday Party! 

The Stained Glass Garden staff is a crew of seven women, each with our own styles and influences apparent in our glass designs.  In addition to working in our own homes & studios, we try to get in a "Staff Art Night" on a regular basis, to share techniques, create together, and spend time doing what we love the most- playing with glass!  Although we have different approaches to our stained glass, mosaic, and fused glass forms, our collective enthusiam for this medium certainly makes us "Birds of a Feather".  Please enjoy our answers to the questionaire we pass out to all of our featured glass artists.  We hope you can make it to our end-of-year event! 

Join us on Saturday, December 2nd, from 4-7 to enjoy the reception, refreshments, and a sale in the store with up to 40% off select tools and up to 50% off select glass!

Questions for a Glass Artist:

Sharon Walton

1. How did you get involved in glass art?  

I wanted a stained glass window for my kitchen, priced them, and decided I’d make it myself. I found a mom & pop stained glass shop in Dallas TX, where I was living, and took an introduction class.  After that I apprenticed with a local professional. When I moved to California, I discovered the Stained Glass Garden & the rest is history.

2. What are some of the challenges of working with glass? 

   For me, coming up with a good design is the hardest thing.

3. How do you choose your glass? 

  I try and put light behind all the pieces, I’m thinking to see how they interact.

4. What projects/new things are coming up for you? 

     I’m always on the lookout for my next project!

 5. What advice do you have for those starting out? 

   Just enjoy the process.  It can be a lot of fun!

 Amelia Williams

 What’s it feel like while you’re working on a mosaic?

Sometimes I feel gnarly and unsure when dealing with a technical challenge.  But for the most part I easily slip into the ‘zone’, so much so that hours whiz by before I know it.  I am peaceful and at my happiest when I’m in the studio,

 What makes your work unique?

I am interested in CONCEPT. A concept or even a title hits me then I wonder how to convey it. I sometimes research and collect reference material, but then create a unique design / image. I especially like making my own shaped substrates, and I often challenge myself technically to get a desired result.

 What’s the decisive moment in the design process?

I spend a lot of time mentally designing a piece.  Some of the more complex pieces require drafting, especially to work out challenges.  When I can mentally ‘see’ it, then I can get to work. But even while working, I get new ideas.  So sometimes the design shifts midstream.  Mosaic gives me the freedom to let a piece develop as I go.

 How do you choose your glass?

Color is the first hit.  Sometimes it’s texture as well.  Sometimes the project leads me to select the glass. Other times the glass leaps out and says USE ME!

 What’s the key to organizing your glass studio?

I have a small space so I have to be organized. I use glass and tile so 2 sets of mosaic tools hanging on nails over my cutting table. A pegboard with other tools. Shelving with color coded boxes.  Small containers for scrap.

Julie Orchard 

 1. Why are you passionate about working with glass? 

Glass has been used for both art and function for thousands of years, but it still feels very new, like there is more to discover, and new ways to manipulate the material.  I’ve realized you can learn to work with glass in a day, but can spend a lifetime mastering the craft.  I love sharing my discoveries and missteps in my classes, and experiment and develop new techniques.  It’s exciting.  Anything you can dream up in glass is possible.  It is just a fascinating medium and beautiful product in every way.  

 2. What are some of it’s challenges?  

The challenge in a mosaic is deciding how to approach the design in glass, whether to opt for larger cuts or small pieces. I always get about three cuts in to my project and tell myself I’m in over my head.  So, working out that voice and accepting that every piece is a learning experience is part of it.  The challenge of fusing for me, is in exercising the patience to fully think through the multi-firing process beforehand to achieve the results that I want.  Sometimes I get my schedule wrong by a few degrees or minutes just by way of being impatient, and that means wasted material.   

 3. What is your current series about?  

The mosaic pieces I’m showing began with the Swan & Cygnet, which was the last piece I created before having my now 5 month old son. It sort of launched a series of pieces on nesting (Robin & Eggs) and motherhood (Quail & Chick).  The process of creating these in my studio allowed me to retreat from the circus of life as a working mom of two, and allow me a place to reflect on celebrating that connection through glass.  My fused feathers were made in part to practice a new enamel watercolor technique I’ve been playing with, and an extension of my dreamcatcher series.  

 4. What projects/new things are coming up for you?  

I have at least one stained glass window in process at all times, and one in my pocket for later.  I’m continuously working on developing new fusing classes with the endless supply of new products in the store.  But I’m especially excited to be planning some larger-scale mosaics, including a mural for the store, and a few pieces in the style I’ve been exploring lately based on work by my husband, who is a great landscape photographer. 

Cindy Gieng

 What is your current series about?

My series for the show has to do with the relationship of land and the concept of borders. In Always a Place to Call Home, I have an old map that reminds me of maps where sailors and cartographers would draw sea creatures and landmarks. I decided to pair it with a swallow based on the story of sailors choosing to tattoo themselves with a swallow for the 5,000 miles they travel. Swallows were also a reminder of hope to return home safely, thus the inspiration for the title. For Urban Commuting, I wanted to use an image that is familiar to the Bay Area and urban life. I thought it would be fun to highlight nature in an environment very much opposite of nature. In Soaring through Boundaries, I chose to pair the red crane (a familiar image in Chinese art) with a world map because the crane motif is used by different countries (ex. Japan, Korea) with similar meanings showing cross-cultural influences. 

 What do you think about while you're creating a piece?

I care a lot about meaning and not just the physical aesthetics of the design. Not always but usually. I end up having a lot of reference photos, notes and research of elements I want to use. Pinterest and Google are my best friends for accessible context and aesthetic research. I also have a pretty good collection of art and history books. Symbols, lines and color play a huge part in composing my pieces so I try to incorporate patterns and colors that give meaning to the piece.  

 How do you choose your glass?

I try to have a project in mind when I shop for glass. By having specific colors or textures I want, I don't feel as overwhelmed with the selection. Of course, it also doesn't hurt to be flexible because ideas can change. And sometimes creative decisions come along organically.                     

 What influences your style?

There is not one thing that influences my creative process. I draw inspiration from history and objects that blur the lines of culture and boundaries. I believe that nature can be healing and look there for color and texture ideas. I also check out other artists and their process to get inspiration. I try not to limit myself to a "style" because my work changes and how I go about it is based on the idea and experimentation. Either way, my work is the physical embodiment of my creative journey and is unique to me just like how it is for everyone.         

 What advice do you have for those starting out?

Have fun. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and to experiment down the road. Everyone does things differently so observe how others make their projects. You can learn a lot about improving your own technique that way. If you are having trouble picking out colors, think about what colors you already love (ex. colors in your home). Also, don't feel the need to please everyone. If that color palette makes you happy, go for it.    

Catlin Adami

 Why are you passionate about working with glass?

I am passionate about glass because it is such a beautiful medium. The possibilities are endless. It’s these beautiful swirls and mixtures of color that you break up and put back together with other beautiful pieces. Also within the medium you have the choice of doing stained glass , mosaics, fusing, beadmaking and more. 

 What are some of it’s challenges?

The obvious challenge of glass is that it is fragile and can break. It’s such a bummer when you finish a piece and you find a break or a crack. Sometimes the piece can be saved, but sometimes not. Also you can’t always find the color or texture or opacity you’re looking for but art isn’t an exact science and I try to embrace that freedom and not stress too much about finding the perfect glass. But it sure is nice when I do. 

 Why do you love being a glass artist?

I love being a glass artist because the ideas are endless and if you’re ever in a slump you just find a special piece of glass to spark that inspiration once again. 

 What is your current series about?

 My current series is about birds because that’s what we all decided to do for this show. But I often do birds and lately I seem to mostly be doing animals. 

I also like doing landscapes, flowers and abstract designs. 

 What’s it feel like while you’re working on a mosaic(process)?

When I’m working on a mosaic it often reminds me of jigsaw puzzles I loved to do when I was younger and had more free time. It’s like creating your own puzzle from scratch. I also often go back and forth thinking it’s looking good, then wondering if it looks bad. All the while mostly having faith that it will look good in the end. I’m usually happy with the results but not always. 

Jessica Chesser

What influences your style?
I find inspiration everywhere! Nature, music, repetitive patterns, colors and textures.

How did you first get involved with SGG?
 A friend who shopped here in the 70's told me I had to go check it out when I moved here from NH. He was right! Best glass store ever.

What’s the key to organizing your glass studio? 
It looks like organized chaos. Bins that are stackable, glass crates, scrap sized containers. Everything has a place. The key is putting it all back once the current project is complete.

What projects/new things are coming up for you?
This year I will put more time into learning how to use the Reusche paints and incorporating inclusions into my mosaics.

What advice do you have for those starting out?
Take a class, have patience and buy all the glass you want!

Megan Robb

1. How did you get involved in glass art?

After college my mom and I were looking for something to do together, and we decided to walk into the store. I loved the clean lines of the stained glass and the composition of colors and transmission of light. My mother and I ended up taking the five week stained glass class with Melinda and we continued on to take mosaic classes and then fusing. Both of us have dedicated a portion of our homes to a glass studio, were we can experiment and create. My mom focuses on mosaic techniques while I prefer fusing, stained glass, and mosaic in that order.

2. Why are you passionate about working with glass?

As a kid I collected rocks, all the different shapes, colors, sizes, and textures that the earth had produced intrigued me. I find those same qualities in glass inspire me to craft and shape. The craft of glass work is also something that I’m always trying to improve upon. The idea that I can construct something really appeals to me. My dad’s career as a pipefitting exposed me to the structural aspect of our world. He made a small metal sculpture of a heart for my mom that I thought was so sweet. The metal being so rigid and cold, yet taking on such a soft gradual shape. Metal is to my dad as glass is to me.

3. What is your current series about?
The kingfisher is a family of birds that have a wide variety of vibrant colors with long beefy beaks and angular heads. I thought their colors would push me to put together glass and textures that I wouldn’t normally gravitate toward. I experimented with the colors for earth paints in order to get the variation of vibrant colors. This series for me is about exercising my stained glass technique and learning the techniques behind colors for earth paints.

What projects/new things are coming up for you?

4. I have taken a few classes working with silver art clay and glass. I’ve really been enjoying the flexibility and fluidity of clay. I can carve and imprint my own textures into a little piece of silver that can compliment the glass and become a piece of jewelry that is visually soft yet structural.  

Jenna Kurtz

1. What are some of the challenges of working with glass? 

Glass dictates what you can do with it, so all decisions must take that into account. I like to play with various colors and textures within my panels. Each type of glass cuts in a different way, therefore my designs are crafted to work with each specific material.

2.   What is process of creation like? 

I find inspiration in many places, but the material really solidifies the idea. I usually start with reference photos, then draft a design in my computer. I choose the colors for my main focus image and work from there. Building is my favorite part because you start to see the piece taking shape.

3. What influences your style? 

My style of work is influenced by various artistic movements, like Art Nouveau and Gothic styles at the moment. I love the idea of combining old styles of art with modern imagery to create a dichotomy of thought. We live in this modern work, with traces of the past all around us, yet forget where it all came from. I want to highlight this idea of acknowledging the past and moving into the future.

 4. What projects are coming up for you?

I am working on the final panel in a series of three Art Nouveau inspired stained glass pieces. It is a challenge for me artistically as well as technically. I want to explore new techniques of building with more complex design elements. I also want to start a series mixing Gothic architectural elements with images of endangered species.


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