Category Archives: Events

Events and contests from Stained Glass Express.

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.

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:


Gallery of Excellence 2019

The largest glass and bead expo in America, Glass Craft & Bead Expo, is held every year at the fabulous South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event is not on the strip, but you can take a shuttle to the strip, if you wish. If you just want to focus on the show, you do not have to leave the hotel — the facility has everything there you need.

There are product exhibits, classes, demos — and my favorite —The Gallery of Excellence.

I am showing my favorites below. If you want to see all of the winners for 2019, click here:

Lewis Wilson: Envoyer Les Clowns (Send in the Clowns)

Anna Souder: Curiosity

Christine Curtis Wilson: Plains Zebras

Laura Dawson: Dragonfly Garden

Harish Dewani: Angelina

Stephanie Rose: The Brothers

If you want info on the 2020 Glass Craft & Bead Expo, click here:

Tiffany Aventurine – A Celebration!


This vase was made c. 1910.  It is Aventurine Lava Blown Glass by Tiffany Studios.  This is currently on display in the new exhibition at the Morse Museum called “Iridescence—A Celebration”.

This vase was among Tiffany’s treasured A-Coll (Artist Collection) pieces exhibited at Laurelton Hall.  It is a striking vase and was made by draping lava like aventurine glass over iridescent gold glass.  The name aventurine references the quartz-like glass with sparkling particles developed in Murano, Italy around 1910 when this was made.

You can use aventurine glass for your treasures also.  Available from Bullseye and Oceanside in flat glass and frit.   Usually available in black, blue or green.  It has been a little tough to get lately but we have some.  Click here to order.



Always Need More

So, so true! And mostly it is glass.  You just can’t stop.  Sometimes it is for a project, sometimes because it is a basic color that you always use, and sometimes it is just because it is too beautiful or unusual to resist.

Thank you for that. You keep the industry going!

We have a great stock of heads and tails in for our annual Invite Night sale April 6th. They will be available to one and all after the sale.