Stained Glass Express open in July of 1988. Before that we stocked some glass and supplies at our Oakes & Parkhurst Glass locations in Winslow, Belfast, Farmington and Skowhegan. All these locations were sold or closed in preparation for our retirement and the only location of O&P Glass is now in Augusta, Maine. www.opglass.com (run by two of our three children). We have been doing/selling stained glass since the early 80s.
We offered some classes in our Winslow location. All that was even thought of was the copper foil method of stained glass. The teacher we had at that time, Fred Tanenbaum from Northern Light Stained Glass, firmly believe that beginners should not use a grinder. We later added Jim Miller of Miller signs to teach. He, and many other stained-glass professionals, believed that if you used a grinder you would not learn to cut well. We all created our own patterns and plugged away at making projects. I still own the first one I made which was fruit. Imagine making a cluster of grapes before nuggets were available! I look at it now and the some of the fruit pieces seem too big or small in relation to the others and there are just kind of suspended in air. However, it did seem amazing that it all got put together even after the dog knocked it off the coffee table and sent all the little pieces flying. In addition to the grapes there was also a pineapple so all those grapes and little diamonds to make up the pineapple got put back together like a puzzle by my son, Tobias and my husband, Richard. Some of the glass is that piece is now not available.
Since that time the offerings have expanded greatly. In additional to the copper foil method, classes are now offered in lead came, Mosaics, multiple skill levels of Fusing, Glass Painting, Glass Blowing and Bead Making. In addition to that there are project based Friends Night Out and classes developed around Healing. We currently have about 20 different teachers who teach for us.
When we were going to open our first store that would have just Stained Glass, we considered stocking just one kind of glass. Armstrong. I am sure glad we did not make that choice since Armstrong is hard to get most of the time.
We always provide grinders for beginners because we don’t think it is fun without one. We stock Glass from Armstrong, Firebox, Spectrum and Uroboros by Oceanside, Wissmach, GNA, Youghiogheny, Kokomo, Pilkington and other clear texture manufacturers.
It will be interesting to see where this industry is in another 35 years!