Working With Glass

If you ask anyone who has a bit of experience under their belt, they’ll tell you that “you learn something new every day”. This old adage rings true each time I walk through the studio door.

custom stained glass window

I learn that choosing glass for a project is dangerous. I always cut myself at least once pulling glass sheets out of and returning them to their cases. Always. I keep band aids close to hand in the studio. They have their own delightful little stained glass container, sometimes decorated with drips of my DNA.

I learn that there’s a relationship between how much “just in case” glass I have on hand for a project and how often I’ll need to re-cut a piece because of breakage. It once took me 30 minutes and lots of sweat (no blood this time) to cut a difficult piece for a panel because I only had enough of this particular kind of a discontinued art glass for this one piece. The glass was perfect for this project, and no mistakes were allowed. It all worked out, but it was an intense half hour.

I learn that when a drop of hot solder falls from the iron, it’s really stupid to pick it up with bare hands. Doing so produces immediate deep pain and the use of a few choice words. I’ve only done this twice – both times when I’ve been working late to meet a deadline, when the communication between brain and hand is weary and slow.

I learn that I can spend 5 hours straight soldering a copper foil window panel and be in some kind of altered state that doesn’t recognize passage of time or the existence of an outside world.

I learn that holding a finished piece up to a window for the first time is thrilling beyond belief. It’s a rush of awe as light teases all those pieces I meticulously chose and cut and ground and fit together – The OMG Factor. I also learn that it’s really quite lovely when the client experiences that same OMG Factor when viewing their piece for the first time. It almost makes letting that piece leave my studio to go live with a new family acceptable.

I learn that I love this work.

Would that I could fill all the world with glass.