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Setting Up a Workshop

Recently on Facebook, I saw someone asking about the floor in her workshop she was setting up. Her husband wanted to put down carpet since the workshop was in the cellar and the carpet would make the floors feel warmer. Of course, she got an emphatic, “no” because of burns and glass shards.

Stained Glass News puts out a publication called “The Beginner’s Guide to Stained Glass.” In that publication, there is an article called “Helpful Ideas for Setting up your Own Stained Glass Workshop.” Most of this info comes from that article.

  1. Proper ventilation. That can be a ventilation system or a fan blowing the fumes away from you or a fume trap. A good option would be the Weller Fume Trap Smoke Absorber.

Weller Fume Trap Smoke Absorber.2. Plenty of light. When we set up our first retail store, at one point, we doubled the lighting. We just could not get enough light. Make sure you have a well-lit work area. Light boxes are also very handy.

3. Storage for glass. There are plenty of options available for easy glass storage. If you buy full sheets, ask your glass dealer for empty cases. Set them on end, and you have a great storage area. The Morton glass caddy is great for cut sheets.

Morton Glass Caddy.4. Grounded electrical connections.  Do not use extension cords. The power strips that extend horizontally or vertically work well. Buy more than you would expect to use because you just won’t believe how many you will actually need. You’ll need power for your soldering iron, ventilation, your music source, saw, grinder and lightbox, just for starters. Have them in easy reach, not under a counter so you won’t have to crawl around to plug something in.

5. Disposal of glass and junk. Set up your room with a place to put the glass you want to keep. As a safety precaution, use a metal trash can for glass shards or working with hot glass. Cleaning rags should go in covered metal storage containers.

Clear storage bins are a great way to store your scrap glass.6. Easy-to-clean flooring. Do not use carpet. Make sure your flooring is something that is not going to break your heart if you drop hot solder on it and burn it.

7. Pay attention to the height of your work area. Do you like to work sitting or standing? Have your working surface at a comfortable height based on this preference.

8. Access to water is important. Using your kitchen sink is not recommended for this activity.

Fallbrook Art Center’s Galaxy of Glass

click on the title to see the entire blog.  A few years ago, I was in California for a wedding. After the wedding, we spent a couple of days wandering around and ended up in Fallbrook.

Luck was with me.

The Fallbrook Art Center was open and hosting its annual Galaxy of Glass.

Its 2019 show just ended. Here are a few of the highlights:


‘Dopamine Action’

Buzz Blodgett of Encinitas, California

Blown glass, mirror and tempered glass with laser light.

“Dopamine Action” by Buzz Blodgett of Encinitas, California.


‘Golden Chaos’

Stephanie Close of La Mesa, California

Hot sculpted glass, glass grinding belts, black & 24-karat gold paint. Mounted on wood.

“Golden Chaos” by Stephanie Close of La Mesa, California.

‘Seven’s Home’

Tom Marosz of Spring Valley, California

Optic crystal, cut, ground, polished and chattered with dichroic.

“Seven’s Home” by Tom Marosz of Spring Valley, California.

To see more of the Fallbrook Art Center and get on its mailing list, go to




Cutting Tip — Does the Cutter Matter?

Is the sky blue?

Rudi Gritsch, former Director of Research at Bullseye Glass Co. and a world-class glass cutter, says you should buy the best cutter you can afford.

If you are a good glass cutter and do not have to rely on a grinder or saw, you will save money. When you are cutting glass, you need to be accurate and comfortable.

There are many options available, so let these two rules be your guides:

  1. You will need a comfortable handle.
  2. You also need a carbide steel wheel.

This cutter does have a rest for your index finger — which does help — but honestly, that is all it has going for it, other than being very inexpensive. It makes my hand hurt just to look at it. It also has a steel wheel instead of carbide steel. Just stay away from it.

Stay away from this cutter.

This is called the Toyo Supercutter. My sister, Wanda, loves it. The cutter, called a saddle back, has a carbide wheel and allows for good pressure.

Toyo Supercutter.

This is a pistol-grip cutter. Pistols are our best-selling cutters, by far. The beautiful colored ones on the right are Toyo’s and they are wonderful cutters. The one on the right is a value knock-off of the Toyo. You get great leverage with this cutter.

Toyo pistol-grip cutters.

Value knock-off of the Toyo pistol-grip cutter.

These are all pencil cutters. Probably not the most comfortable to use, but certainly are a favorite of a lot of people. Note the one on the bottom has a wider head. This is called a tracking head, which is great for straight lines. Curves, not so much.

Pencil cutter.

Another style of pencil cutter.

Pencil cutter with a tracking head.

To see all the cutters offered at Stained Glass Express, click here.


From Problem to Solution!

July 20, 2019, marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, and this anniversary was covered often in the news. It brought to mind my favorite scene from a movie, Apollo 13 — “From Problem to Solution.” It is also called the “duct tape and cardboard” solution.

After the amazing “Houston, we have a problem” scene, in which part of the spacecraft was lost, the astronauts, Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) and Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) were in danger of dying from the exhaust of their own lungs. They had to find a way to fit a square lithium hydroxide canister into a round opening.

The scene that I am absolutely in love with is when “backroom” experts at ground control enter a room,  dumping boxes of stuff onto a table. The leader says, “We have to find a way to make this (holding up the square canister) fit into the hole for this with nothing but that (pointing to the stuff on the table).” Their challenge was there was nothing on that table that the space crew did not have in the spacecraft. There was not a second of hesitation; they just started working. Using plastic bags, cardboard and tape, they put a model together. They then led Captain Swigert, step by step, into building the same contraption in the spacecraft!

Scene from Apollo 13.

Currently in our industry, it seems like we have a gadget for everything — many good ones that really help.

Morton seems to be the leader in a lot of these gadgets but there are lots of other companies that have helpful gadgets to offer.

This link will bring to the wonderful group of Morton things like this handy glass caddy.

The Morton glass caddy.

Who could live with out the waffle grid?

The essential waffle grid.

And here’s one of our more popular items, The Grinder Cookie (save your fingers!)

The Grinder Cookie will help save your fingers!

How on earth would you ever cut a bottle without a bottle cutter?

Standard bottle cutter.

Ephrems Bottle Cutter.

Generation Green g2 Bottle Cutter.

Who even knew this existed? Meet Helping Hands.

Helping Hands gives you more freedom to work.

Then there are all those times when you just don’t have the right gadget. You live in a remote area and things are not easily obtained (or you just want to spend your money on glass!), so you just get inventive and move on. Just fit that “square thing into the round hole” is strong in this industry.

I asked the folks on the Facebook groups Stained Glass Addicts, Maverick Fusers and Mosaic Mentoring for examples of sometimes they just had to “make do.” These are the responses I received. (Thank you, guys — you are awesome to share your experiences!)

From Stained Glass Addicts

Carol Brock: Use a cardboard box, cut the side off, poked a hole in the back side for the electric cord and put grinder in. After a time, change out for another! A real “cardboard and duct tape” solution!

Carol Rumak: Paper clips can be used as hangers. They fit neatly over a seam and are strong!

Cayti Bouldin: Doing a lot of small work. This works! LOL

Solution from Cayti Bouldin.

Brenda Calhoon Sheik: I use these to burnish and to clean. They last forever.

Solution from Brenda Calhoon Sheik.

Kathy Lieber: Free paint stir sticks from Home Depot and upholstery tacks for solder framing.

From Maverick Fusers

Kelly Cole Jones: Use pizza stones as kiln shelves, or even ceramic tiles. And (you) can reuse shelf paper multiple times if you’re careful. Also, (you) can use bisque items as molds and can use already glazed/finished ceramics as molds too. Or (you) can easily make your own mold with low-fire clay.

RoseMarie Brown: You can fix the burnt part of the circuit board of a soldering iron controller with a piece of copper foil.

Kim Jennings: Nothing special, but I use a toothbrush to apply patina.

Bobbi Ogborn: Light table = 4 quart paint cans, 1 piece sheet acrylic, one fluorescent tube light. Easy to set up, take down and store.

Stevie Cook Clements: Electric toothbrush for polishing textured glass.

Sharon Watkins: A length of guttering nailed to the end of my bench. Then I just sweep off glass shards etc., into it. Easy to empty.

Sheila H. Chadbourne: I put my sawdust into this container with a brush to remove the wax off my suncatchers. So much faster and (it) keeps it contained.

Solution from Sheila H. Chadbourne.

Jeni Gray-Roberts: I use steel bowls from tag sales to drape over. Kiddie strainer and tea strainers for sifting glass frit. Fat “smoothie” straws cut into a makeshift spoon for glass powder. Aloe as a light glue. Final Net hairspray as a fixative for transporting. Fat painter’s brush as a table broom. Emery buffers to do final smoothing on small glass pieces. White foam core from the dollar store a photo background. Wooden sewing embroidery hoops as circle to pour frit into on shelf (remove before firing)

From Stained Glass Express

Remember when we did not have the layout system. We used strips of wood that we used over and over as our own layout system. Quarter round worked great!

Old ceiling tiles still work great as cutting boards.

This is a creative fix from Wanda Shorty. It involves running over a fork with a truck!

A bent fork makes a great soldering iron stand.

This poor fork will never again make an appearance at the dinner table.

But it will be put to good use, time and time again!


Trompe L’Oeil

This is a glass blog, so before I launch into trompe l’oeil, I will say something about glass. In Readfield, Maine, there is a building called the Union Meeting House. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

We had the good fortune of being asked to repair some of the building’s stained glass windows several years ago. This week, I was at the Union Meeting House for a David Mallett concert and got to visit our repaired windows, which are holding up great.

Windows in the Union Meeting House, Readfield, Maine.

Windows in the Union Meeting House, Readfield, Maine.

The building has some non-leaded, colored stenciled glass windows, shown above on the right side of each photo. They are very rare and are only used in one other church in Maine. As years went by, they were replaced with more traditional stained glass windows, which appear on the left in each photo.

Normally, I am “all about the glass,” but this building has something even better! This building, in this very small town, has one of the finest examples of trompe l’oeil there is, the reason it was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Trompe l’oeil is French for “to fool the eye.” The walls and ceilings of this building are painted plaster, which appears to be three-dimensional. There are columns (like you see in the pictures above), medallions, wall plaques and arches that look like they protrude, but they are flat. They are so realistically painted that you just can’t believe they are actually flat and really want to touch them. However, this sign sits on a sill:

A sign warns visitors not to touch the walls.

This shows more examples of trompe l’oeil. All of this is flat!

Another example of trompe l’oeil.

Colors for Earth – New Stuff!

We have been distributors for Colors for Earth Paint since August 2017. Since we started stocking, we have added new products as they came out.

The Colors for Earth logo.

One thing we added is Piping Paste, which comes in white and black and is great to use as an outline. It is raised off the surface and creates a dam so that you can apply your paint inside the areas, not “outside the lines.”

Piping paste.

We also added the layering mix for paint pours, which is such a fun thing to do.

Beautiful dishes made using the Paint Pour technique.

We recently added some of the “glitz” to our lines of Bubble Art, G Series and Gs Series. The following is from the Colors For Earth website.

Copyright Infringement Concerns

Weird situation in my mind. You buy a pattern book because you like a pattern in it. If you make up the piece and sell it, have you committed copyright infringement?

Technically, yes.

If, however, you make the piece and hang it in your den, you have not committed copyright infringement. Only if you make a profit on it.

If you check with the publisher, any of the following could happen. Some will charge you a royalty fee. Others will allow you to produce a small number of pieces before expecting compensation.

Related to that is copying patterns from a pattern book. When we were first in business, customers sometimes asked if they could just copy a pattern from a pattern book instead of buying the book. Not only is it is illegal to do so, it is also unethical. It takes away income from the designer/publisher — and from the store too. We have already paid for the books on the shelf.

If you are working on a piece, you can make the copies you need to build the piece. But if you make a copy to give to your friend, that is copyright infringement.

If you change the pattern 35 percent, technically, you have not committed copyright infringement. If you change, say, a chickadee pattern 35 percent, you are good. After all, how many ways can you make a chickadee pose?

Here’s some good news.

If you use a Stained Glass Express free pattern, you may feel FREE to use it, however you wish. We do not copyright them — we make them for you!

Stained Glass Express Free Patterns

When you first start clicking through these items, it may appear that we are charging for them. But you will only be charged if you buy the kit, which includes glass and other needed items to build the piece. If you scroll down below the product description, you will see the following:

Click HERE to download the free stained glass pattern.

How about Stained Glass Express printed patterns?

When we first develop a pattern, we build it, put it on display and give it away for three months. After the initial three months, however, the printed pattern is no longer free. But the patterns are always free online, as you are using your own ink and paper.

Just one of many free patterns Stained Glass Express has made for you! Click on the picture to download!


There is no better time to talk about color than fall in Maine! In the art glass world, we deal with color all the time. What a wonderful industry!

One of the tricks of the trade is knowing how to combine colors. There is a tool called the color wheel to help with this.

The color wheel.

First, you have to “know your colors.”

PRIMARY COLORS: The colors from which all others are made. These colors are Red, Yellow and Blue.

The secondary colors.

Red + Yellow = Orange

Yellow + Blue = Green

Blue + Red = Violet

INTERMEDIATE COLORS: The colors that result from mixing one primary and one secondary color. Red-Orange, Yellow-Green, Blue-Violet, Red-Violet, Yellow-Orange and Blue-Green.

The tertiary color wheel.

TINTS, TONES, SHADES: Made by adding White, Gray or Black.

Tints and shades.

In this industry, we talk about hot (or warm) and cool colors.
Yellow to Red-Violet are warm and Yellow-Green to Violet are cool.

Warm and cool colors.

Color harmonies are colors that go together. This is where the color wheel helps.

COMPLEMENTARY COLORS: They are opposite each other on the color wheel. They are one primary color and the secondary color that is created by mixing the other two primaries. The complementary color to Yellow would be Purple (mix of Blue and Red). If you mix these colors, you may get a muddy color or something on a grayscale. When put next to each other, they create a high contrast. They are a bit tricky to use. Use them when you want something to stand out.

Complementary colors.

TRIADIC HARMONY: Three colors spaced equally apart on the color wheel. These are three colors evenly spaced on the color wheel. They are also very vibrant. Balance them carefully. Let one dominate and the other two accent it.

Triadic harmony.

SPLIT COMPLEMENTARY: A color and the two colors next to its complement on the wheel. This is a variation of the complementary. It is a strong look with high contrast but less so than the complementary. It is easier to use.

Split-complementary colors.

ANALOGOUS: Colors that are next to each other on the wheel. They match well and make for serene and comfortable designs. Good for nature scenes.

Analogous color ranges.

RECTANGLE (TETRADIC): Uses four colors arrange into two complementary pairs. This makes for a very rich color scheme. Watch for a balance between warm and cool colors.

Rectangle (tetradic) color scheme.

SQUARE: Much like the rectangle but with all the four colors evenly spaced around the wheel. This works best if one color dominates. Again, watch the warm and cool color balance.

Square color scheme.


Repairing a Crack

Copyright 2019 by The Flow. All rights reserved. This is from the Spring Nature Issue.

They have given us permission to reprint it. It is a except from the book, “Parallels Between Hot Glass and Human Existence”.

The Village Iterate

  • Taking the time to thoroughly reheat a piece in a kiln before repairing a crack will allow you to merely kiss it away with the gentlest of flames. Attempting the same without preheating leads to cracking all the way through, which can cause the piece to fall off the pontil and completely shatter, or melt out of shape and create permanent scarring within the body of the piece, which will require physical removal. This is accomplished by heating the offending area until it is liquid and removing the bad material, then replacing it with new, often creating and undesirable visible artifact of the process.
  • The more frequent the reheats, the hotter, harder, quicker, and sharper they can be. The less frequent they are, the more time each requires in a cooler, gentler flame and greater thoroughness to get the heat to the center of the mass.
  • If you’ve got a long shot at saving a piece, take it. It might work, and the attempt will likely take much, much less time than starting over. And you’ll learn something – perhaps something important.
  • Dig out the crack and fill the gap with new material, then flatten the sport and flame-polish it, all which the glove on the hand you’re holding it with starts smoking and the heat penetrates to your burning fingers. It might work.
  • If it cracks somewhere else while making the attempt, put it in a hot kiln, bring it up to working temp, and hold a torch inside the kiln itself while the plastic handles melt off and your gloves smoke. Check it with a flashlight, and as long as you made some progress, let it soak and do it again and again until you save the piece. It might work!
  • If you’ve got a piece that definitely isn’t going to make it, go ahead and do something interesting with what you do have. What you have is much more advanced and developed and interesting that starting from raw materials, and since it’s terminal, you’re free to
    try . . . anything! It might work!!

You can subscribe to The Flow here:


Why the Glass You Want Is Not Available

Stained Glass Express has always taken pride in never being out of stock on any glass. We would have at least one sheet cut up and out on the retail floor, ready for you to carry out, and another full sheet in the warehouse. As soon as the full sheet in the warehouse went to the retail floor, we ordered another one.

Unfortunately, it’s no longer that simple.

Since Spectrum (announced May 2016) and Uroboros (announced October 2016) closed, not only has some glass been scarce or not available at all, the dynamics of buying glass is different. Both companies’ assets were sold to Oceanside Glass and Tile.

Oceanside certainly has had its challenges. It moved the assets, constructed buildings and trained workers. As the distributors’ warehouses emptied their stock of Spectrum and Uroboros, we felt the need to find glass. It was a year from the time Spectrum announced its closing that we knew that Oceanside would begin production. In the meantime, this is what we did:

  1. We bought one year’s supply of cabinet glass in advance. We sell a lot of cabinet glass, most of it to one customer. We bought one year’s supply in advance, hoping the dust would settle by then and we would not be cutting and putting together hundreds of new sample sets for this customer. We called it right on that one. We made it through the year, and we are still using the same sample sets. Below is our top selling cabinet glass, Clear Seedy.


  1. We brought in two new lines of fusible glass. First, we brought in Wissmach’s 96 line. That meant rearranging some display area to make room for a new line of glass. We still had a lot of the old System 96, but as we ran out of some colors, we needed to be ready. Then we brought in Youghiogheny 96, later to become the Northeast distributor for Youghiogheny and increasing that line.

Wissmach 96 COE Glass

Youghiogheny 96 COE Glass

  1. We increased our offering of Bullseye compatible glass. We like to think of this as 90 COE, but Bullseye just calls it “Bullseye compatible.” We have had more customers switch over to Bullseye to avoid the turmoil. There is no question the glass is beautiful.

Then Oceanside announced that most of the line that previously was nonfusible would become fusible. Wow! That involved us changing around the entire showroom. Our big wall of nonfusible cubbies would become fusible because that change meant most of our glass would be fusible. What a delight this change has been for fusers, who now have many more options.

All these changes for Spectrum/Oceanside meant a rocky supply chain. Clear glass was manufactured and then it switched to color. Before it went back to clears, they became scarce.

It also meant a lot of changing around the showroom and trying to keep items so you could find what you wanted (if we were lucky enough to have it). We arranged our glass so that the nonfusible glass was kept separate from the fusible. For a time, we might have had two pieces of glass that looked identical, but one was fusible and one was not.

At this point, there are colors that are manufactured twice a year. We can only hope that our distributors call it correctly and have enough to get us to the next run. They have not even manufactured all the colors yet!

Iridized glass has all but disappeared. Kokomo’s iridizing machine was shut down during the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s investigations in 2016. It got plugged up when it was turned off and they have not gotten it running again. Oceanside does not have the ability to iridize yet. Once in a while, we get some Wissmach, but it is scarce.

We brought in two new lines, which was a big investment. Then Oceanside started being manufactured, and we wanted to grab glass from that line as it became available. We had to make big decisions about how much to buy. We all have limited resources and even though we might want to spent every available dollar on glass (we know you understand THAT) we also have to meet payroll, pay utilities, put paper in the copy machine and all those other things you just hate to think about.

Even planning a sale is different. I now start gathering up enough glass to have it on sale three months ahead. I might have to buy from three different distributors and I generally try not to buy glass more than twice a month. That means there is extra glass sitting here, waiting for a sale that is two to three months out — or more. That means less money for routine orders. However, we now know we’d better buy glass when it becomes available.

We are being diligent about continuing to do so, and we are trying to keep the website updated with these changes. On those days when customers don’t seem to realize there have been shutdowns, we feel we should pat ourselves on the back — because that means we have kept enough glass in stock so that vast gaps are not as obvious to you, the customer. There are other days when we don’t know how we are going to, for instance, run a sunflower class because we don’t have enough yellow glass. But we sigh, roll up our sleeves and find a way to make it happen.

Despite all the current difficulties, we are lucky to be in an industry that surrounds us with so much beauty, fun and healing power.