Prior to discovering glass, I had two satisfying career paths: teacher of Emotionally Disturbed children in the Green Bay (WI) public schools, followed by marketing, technical support, and management in the computer industry, initially for IBM. I started working with stained glass in January, 2003 to create a panel for a pass-through in our primary bedroom. I have dabbled with other artistic ventures, primarily music and poetry, but had little success in visual arts despite a variety of efforts over the years.
My first stained glass class was a revelation: I finally found a medium that works for me. I enjoy both the design and the fabrication aspects of glass and feel that both are improving with every project I complete. My dad was an engineer and I became comfortable with using tools early. The fabrication process fits into this comfort level well.
I started creating panels for my home, especially to replace the obscured glass in the windows that faced into the hill the house is perched on. In the beginning, both for practice and fund-raising for the Angel Island Conservancy (AIC), I began making small items and panels for sale at Angel Island State Park. These small items were also a good way to use the inevitable glass scraps I accumulate from my larger projects. My birds, butterflies, and angels were popular at the Conservancy's gift shop. In addition for several years, I created panels for live and silent auctions held by organizations I support, including the AIC, the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (AIISF) and the Chinese Culture Center (for whom I also work doing Chinatown Heritage Walks).
To facilitate my ability to create designs and share them with clients, it was natural for me to turn to my computer and the web. I found and purchased Glass Eye 2000 by Dragonfly Software in mid-2003. It has enabled me to achieve design independence far beyond my wildest dreams. Many people new to stained glass are limited to designs created by others. Glass Eye 2000 allows me to easily draw with the computer and also to use reference photos as a foundation for my designs. I have used Glass Eye 2000 for all my projects after my initial training class.
Most of my work has been done using copper foil and solder (also known as the Tiffany method). Foil panels are considered easier to do and it is often the primary method taught these days, but soldering skills (to create clean lead lines) take time to develop.
I started working with traditional leaded came projects in 2007. This was driven by a large geometric commission project and facilitated by a new product, called "No Days Glaze" by Streuter Technologies, that replaces the traditional (and very messy) putty. Not only is it considerably neater and does not require personalized putty formulae, it also eliminates the traditional several day wait for putty to cure (hence the name). It is activated by a heat gun, and is very easy to use. The curing process also produces panels with excellent stability.
Came is much different to work with -- more forgiving in some respects and more challenging in others. For my geometric designs, precision glass cutting is a key element! In addition to the Moon and Suns project, I have since completed over a dozen cabinet doors, a window for an entry door, and a room divider at a nearby retirement community using this process. For the entry door, I did use traditional putty to ensure that the window would be weather tight. The report from the client is that it easily survived several winters without difficulty.