Monday, December 27, 2010

Getting Back To Work

I haven't quit working on glass projects, but the holidays were hectic. It's great to visit with friends and loved ones. It fun to write cards and go to parties. It's even fun to look for and find that perfect present!

But, now I can focus on creating the stained glass projects we have in process. I built several panels last month, but not nearly as many as I would have if not for the holiday activities. The old saying, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," comes to mind. We have to make time for others, how can we have friends if we don't take time to be friends?

So, I'm grateful for the season and now I'm grateful to get back to work!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Find Myself Distracted

I do, I find myself distracted. I write a monthly newsletter ( ). It's about stained glass and features a tips and tricks article, a featured art project, a new free pattern and a highlighted supply that we sell. It takes quite a bit of time to set it up and publish it each month.

Then, I write two different blogs, My Stained Glass Adventures ( )and Confessions Of A Video Junkie ( ). The adventures one gets a post about once a month and the other usually twice a month. I find it hard to come up with more to say about stained glass more than once a month that isn't repetitive and redundant. With videos, I usually review ones that I've seen at home and have a strong opinion about.

Occasionally I write an article, strictly about stained glass that isn't a how to for the newsletter and it goes on our website.

Then there's the weekly writing I try to do on our facebook gommstudios group (!/group.php?gid=121011244611125 ) and the daily comments that go on the personal facebook feed, the monthly comments that go on the downtown Provo art gallery stroll group ( ) and the monthly comments on the Utah County Art Gallery facebook group (!/group.php?gid=120154841376303 ).

Now I'm writing a copy of this blog onto a Merchant Circle account and I enjoy answering questions that I receive weekly from those who find us on the Internet and those that are sent from

It's no wonder that I find myself distracted!

I aspired to becoming a writer when I was in high school, I guess I've made it on some level, I only hope I'm doing a good job of it.

(By the way, an author likes an audience, so if you click on the sites I've mentioned, feel free to become a follower or join the groups)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Loving Stained Glass

I love stained glass!

I love to view it, I love it when it helps make an architectural statement. I love when an artist tries something different with it. I love little pieces of glass art and I love big, impressive masses of stained glass.

I love the colors of glass, how different qualities of light change the look of the piece. I love the heavy lines that run through the art, restricting us and yet defining our art.

I really do love it


There are things I'm less fond of. And it depends on the day and my mood. Usually cutting glass is a pure delight, but there are days when it's not as fun, when the design is boring or tedious. Occasionally I enjoy sandblasting. The sand flows just right and cuts into the glass perfectly and art is created, but most of the time there are technical difficulties that slow me down and I wonder why I ever suggested it to the client!

Right now, I'm enjoying getting videos about glass produced and getting Jeanne's first book completed. Writing the glass newsletter and setting up for an art show are so fun! These are related activities to stained glass and when I find that I really enjoy those side activities, it reminds me that this is why we keep practicing our art. We put pen to paper and cutter to glass, whether it's what we feel like today or not. Because creating the artwork leads to so many other fulfilling activities.

I have to create stained glass art if I want to have something to say in the newsletter! If we don't build glass, there is nothing to display, nothing to photograph and less to inspire us. So we love glass, for the glass itself and we also love glass for what it brings to our lives.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Hosting An Event

They say that in order to successfully market your business you need to host at least 3 events every year. Last month, Jeanne invited her "Gather-Ring" group to meet at our studio. A dozen or more folks showed up for the activity, where each person was able to make a stained glass folk-like bird. It was a great success and we really enjoyed the group of women who came. Everyone was positive and happy, they were all ready to have a good time. Usually in a group activity, folks get impatient when they have to wait. These women weren't like that at all, several who were waiting to solder choose to select beads. Some were asking each other about their businesses while they waited and were brainstorming about what the next step someone could take in their marketing. It was positive and inspiring. And yes, they liked their completed project. Another thing we noticed, they wanted to do it themselves. It was okay to show how to do a step, but they wanted to have a chance to do it so that they learned in the process.

This group demonstrated really positive dynamics. After they left, Jeanne and I compared them to other groups we've taught and also individuals that have taken classes. We noticed that in this group, there were no complainers and no whiners. They were all there to have fun and support each other.

Also, no one was a "poor mouth." You know the type, can't you do this for free because I can't afford it, I could never do that because it costs too much..etc. We get that kind of student at least twice a year and they kind of suck all the fun out of teaching them. They are so busy focusing on what they don't have and how difficult life is for them, that they create a happiness vacuum around them, sucking the joy away during the class. These are usually the ones who want a deal, who want to trade for the cost of class and then leave owing us money. When we get that kind of student, we kind of groan inside because you can't kick them out of class, you just have to endure them. A couple of years ago, we had a student who was so gloomy that two students said they would be back after her classes were over and they took six weeks off and then returned after she was done.

It really was great, in contrast, to work with the "Gather-Ring" group. If all students were like this, we'd teach even more sessions of classes than we do now!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Surrounded by Nudes

We are building windows to go over a friends spa. It's a bow window, the type that has five or six flat panels to go in a circular design around a bathtub. One day, after I'd been researching classic nudes on the Internet, after about two hours and finding very few that were right, I told Jeanne that I had to watch some mindless TV to clear the many images out of my head! The trials we go through for our art! Anyhow, I found three that will suit us for the window and there will also be a reverse of them in the other three panels. I think they will turn out to be some very wonderful panels, really inspiring! The one pictured is the most elegant of the three and will look especially good when softened by the sandblasting. But now I've got these prints waiting to be cut out and blasted, so we really are surrounded by nudes!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jeanne and The Downtown Art Stroll

In July, Jeanne was made the Director of The Downtown Provo Art Stroll. She has been meeting with gallery owners in the downtown stroll area, encouraging them to be proactive in getting artists for the stroll. She's kind of like an organizing cheerleader. August 6th was the stroll and today, August 10th we had an "After The Stroll" meeting to see how things went. One gallery wasn't even open during the stroll, one gallery made a sale, each of the galleries had between 60 and 250 visitors. It's really fun to go on the stroll, especially if the galleries are pumped about it each month. After all, it's free advertisement for them and it gets them known better by the community.

So what does that have to do with stained glass? We believe that we either all survive together or we sink. We have stained glass hanging for sale in two of the galleries and we'll be featured in another in December. So it's to our own interest to help the galleries survive, to do well, to have more traffic and build interest in all the arts. After all, we're pretty sure that good art raises one up and ennobles the spirit. So we're making the world a better place by creating and promoting good art.

It was also great to see the mayor of Provo (John Curtis) out visiting all of the gallery's, supporting the arts and visiting with folks in the community.

Jeanne has been diligent in meeting with gallery owners, in fact putting in more time and effort that a few of the gallery owners, getting ready for the stroll. She has found four more locations that will be part of the stroll, two of them have been exhibiting art all along, but weren't on the stroll map. Two other business owners were wondering how they could be a part of the event, but didn't know who to talk to! She feels grateful for the few folks who are willing to do a little extra to make the stroll a success. Now she just has to get things ready for September and then have a success at the semi-annual art chase in October (I didn't even know they did it twice a year!)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Having Fun In Spite Of The Heat

Jeanne taught three students this morning while I re-did some postcards for the "First Fridays Downtown Provo Gallery Stroll." The guy who was going to design it, said he didn't have time this month when Jeanne called him to get them. So I volunteered. I told her that after the third edit of the card, "This just proves the old adage, No good deed goes unpunished."

We went and picked up a 4 x 8 sheet of Styrofoam for packing future stained glass shipments and we got a 4 x 8 sheet of drywall to use to build a glass panel on. Our grandsons, Nik and Drew carried the Styrofoam out by themselves, exclaiming how light it was.."I can carry this with one hand."

Then I was able to cut out an entire mandala that Jeanne had laid out. I had to cut 8 pieces with the saw in order to keep from breaking them. The picture I uploaded is the table with the pattern and a pile of cut pieces ready to grind and get fit in place.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Artistic Path

Lately we've had many new projects come our way. There are some that pay (which is good) and many that are either built as consignment items or pieces that are for trade or for us. This puts a strain on the budget, but allows us greater freedom artistically.

We finished one of the angel panels for our home and began the second one. It's fun and challenging and will be a great addition to our December show at the Covey Center, but it takes up space needed for other projects.

Lynde Mott has given us a rebuild to do, it's a little funky, she wondered if we could leave the holes left by broken pieces and just make the window stronger. We came to a compromise, where we replace the four or five badly broken pieces with clear textured glass. The idea is to show care for the window, but to leave it's imperfections.

Connie at The Finer Designer had us measure some of her windows at home and we gave her some designs. She liked the simple design for her 6 bathroom panels, and she loved the more formal windows. So we get to build them, there's a trade involved, but the sandblasted elements will be a challenge and should be beautiful.

And Alicia has approved her design for a panel in the large square transom area over her front door. It'll take a while since many of the pieces in this panel will be fused glass.

It's fun, exciting and rewarding. We can focus on good art and creativity, instead of chasing jobs for a couple of weeks. (I've heard that summer time is slow in the business, if this is slow, I'm going to have to learn to work harder and faster!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Copper Foil Is The Best

Recently I got in a running discussion about the merits of the copper foil method. A reader saw that we had taken apart a leaded window, redesigned it and rebuilt it using the copper foil method.

"Why would you do that when leading is so much more versatile and strong?"

I was dumbfounded. You can see more pictures of the rebuilt window and the condition of the lead at rebuild.htm

It really was a sight. Just terrible condition.

I've discussed how superior the copper foil method is in articles before. The article at typeandquality.htm covers the subject very well, but in this running discussion (argument) that I had, I pointed out something that wasn't in that article which has been read and republished thousands of times.

Lead came deteriorates and crumbles and loses it integrity in as little as ten years and certainly within a hundred years unless encased in between glass. Copper foil doesn't because it isn't lead alone, but a mixture of tin and lead which is much stronger and stands up to the elements. Lamps and windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany sell from $30,000 to millions. But you don't see that price being commanded from lead came windows because they deteriorate so badly.

Her comment about lead came being more versatile is wrong in my opinion, this can be debated by others, but since it's my article, I say it's wrong. How many times have I seen lead came windows by really good artists that have a copper foil section in the panel because they need more detail in an area.

The only reason one would ever choose to use lead came is that it is faster to build, since only joints must be soldered, or that they were trying to achieve a certain perfection in laying out beveled diamonds in a French style window.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Thinking About Starting A Stained Glass Business

I got an email the other day. It was from a fellow who was laid off and thought he might start a stained glass business. He was asking for advice and wondered if we ever gave free stained glass classes. It was hard to answer his email because it seemed so silly, having never even built a stained glass panel, he's considering starting a business in stained glass. Do people look at stained glass and think, "That looks like a pretty easy thing to do?" or do they see us at the farmers market each week with our displays and thousands of dollars invested in labor and glass items and think, "Well if they can do that, I could too?" My answer to him follows:
We charge for our stained glass classes because it costs us to teach. There are supplies and materials that we use up during a class. The cost for a class session is $150 and that includes over $50 worth of supplies and materials including a glass cutter ($20) safety glasses ($4) copper foil ($15) sharpie pen ($2) flux brush ($1) fid ($3) zinc outer bar ($6) 1 lb solder ($18)and then most of the glass for a first panel measuring 12 x 12. We also let you use our equipment, grinders, tables, soldering irons, etc. Plus there are cleaners and chemicals that we furnish. We also have to buy extra insurance in case someone gets hurt and we have to heat and cool the place.

So, while it's true that we make a small fee after the cost of class, it's not much. We used to charge less for classes, but found that we were losing money and even though we enjoy teaching, we just have to make a profit or at least break even. You can read about our classes at

We do have many lessons at
Visiting there and reading all the articles will teach you a lot about stained glass. And finally, we sell a video at
which will teach you the basics. We worked with several other folks for five years on the beginning video and share the profits with them, so even that video can't be free.

Make sure and read the article at
and start in business slowly. Stained glass is one of the hardest businesses you can try and last year we only made $5000 for the year. That's $5000 for two people working full time so $2500 for me and $2500 for my wife. That works out to $1.20 per hour. I'm not exaggerating. You should consider stained glass work as a hobby, under no circumstance will it make you a decent living without years of trial and error. Ask yourself some hard no one doing stained glass in Tooele because it's not appreciated there or is it because it's hard to make it as an artist. LDS employment offers free business advice. They will help you with a business plan and it's free to anyone who wants their help, you don't have to be LDS for the help. They will help you to get realistic about planning a business.
People don't believe you when you give advice on business matters, articles I've written on business are as follows:
I tell the story of how a difficult client robbed us of joy for some time.
I explain some of the happy stress of running a business
I tell of the student who broke me and caused me to give up stained glass completely for over a year.
I give some ideas on how one may market stained glass.
I discuss pros and cons of bartering in business.
I discuss in detail the "eyes open approach" to entering a stained glass business.
I discuss dealing with the adversity and discouragement of running a business.
I explain my philosophy that competition doesn't really exist.
How long should I bend over backwards to satisfy a client?
I tell of the feeling of having a good day in business.
I explain that the majority of folks just don't appreciate stained glass.
What are worthy artistic goals?
I complain about teaching classes.
I express how little we know about running a stained glass business.
I answer the question Should I Start My Own Stained Glass Business.
I tell of a mistake we made.
I explain about fighting to stay alive in economic tough times..this was before the bubble burst..we were struggling during the BOOM, ha.
I explain our open about art philosophy.
How health is important to us.
I give our formulas for pricing stained glass.
How the Internet keeps changing on us.
This article is another installment on how to market stained glass.
I teach because it can lead to happiness.
After all that, people still look at you with disbelief when you tell them that it's a struggle to run your own business. They are sure that you're lying to them, trying to keep them out of the game. They don't see the fact that you've been late on your house payment over half the months of the last year. They don't believe that you often only made $15 a week at the farmers market and that was all you made for the entire week and that the end of the summer you had to pay sales tax on it. They won't believe the despair you've felt as artist friends and gallery owners gave up and took menial jobs to get back on their feet. They don't believe or even imagine the number of times you've almost thrown in the towel and given up. And they especially don't believe us when we write articles and give lectures and we are positive about today and tomorrow..because it's told to us that we must be constantly positive and surround ourselves with positive affirmations to draw good things towards us. They believe our PR and won't/can't believe our reality.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Working On A Newsletter

In our April newsletter I showed half of the procedure to setting up a sandblast cabinet and I'm finishing the article for our May newsletter as I finish my own cabinet. It's nearly done. The photo with this blog is what you have to wear when not using a sandblast cabinet.

When I learned to sandblast in Missouri, I would suit up (with a much better respirator) and rubber gloves that extended to my shoulders. I ran the sandblaster on the back porch and nothing else could be done back there since it created such a mess. Many times the humidity would be so high that it was difficult, sometimes impossible to get the sand to flow.

Now that we reside in Utah, it's so dry that I can blast even when it's's that dry! In fact, I often get static shocks from the cabinet through my clothes. I'm not a masochist but those shocks are almost..almost enjoyable because they mean I'm getting very good sand flow.

The art that you can produce with sand carving is worth the expense and effort of setting up a system.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Working on Sandblasting

I wrote about the first half of setting up a sand blast system in our April newsletter. Now I'm working on the second half for May. It takes awhile because I have to set up the system to write about it and you have to make things up as you go. I put the sand blast hose through the cabinet and I don't like it, so I have to figure a better way. So if you do things by trial and error, you've got to get to the right way to do it before you go writing an article about it...don't you?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Working On Shutters For Our Dining Room

I started working on a dining room area during the middle of last summer. Jeanne and I decided that it would be nice to put stained glass shutters in dining room. I first had to trim out the window. That went fairly quickly, then I had to build the shutters, but they were long and I also had to figure how to put them together so they would be strong. It took a long time for me to figure it out. So we got the frames put together.

Now we're working on the stained glass design. I printed out the one we had designed a few months back and both Jeanne and I were unhappy with it, so we're back to the drawing board. I suppose that when the project is done, we'll have a good article for the newsletter, but right now it's a wood working project.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Teach Stained Glass Or Something

After building and designing stained glass projects for a few years, the newness and joy of it all began to fade for a friend of mine. He found that it wasn’t as much fun and he would put off projects because they didn’t drive him to the heights that they once had. This feeling lasted until he began to teach another round of classes and he rediscovered the joy that had been missing through the eyes of his students.

It was magical, as he began to teach the basic principles of how a window went together and the students cut their first pieces of glass, there was an excitement that went through the entire class. There was a joy in learning something new, there was an excitement as the students began to taste success.

And their excitement sparked his own. It rekindled the flame of burning joy that he had felt when he was in the process of building his first successful stained glass panel. He re-lived the feelings of anticipation as he selected the glass for his first piece. The feeling of success he had felt as he created pieces of glass that fit together the way they were supposed to came back to him as he saw and felt the successes that those students were feeling.

This new feeling was a rebirth of the old excitement and love that had caused him to embrace stained glass. It had become an obsession for him for some time, this building of artwork that was so beautiful. And he had embraced the art of stained glass wholeheartedly. But then, as time went on, it had become a job, a way to make a living and the joy of creation had begun to fade.

Most of us at one time or another may have had times when the joy of a hobby or an avocation goes out of it. I felt much the same as my friend at one time about stained glass, giving up entirely for a period of time. But I also found that same rebirth of enjoyment as I began to teach students of the art.

If this has been the case in your life, I propose that you try an experiment. Think of that skill that brought you joy and teach a class. This can be as simple as volunteering for the local after school mentoring program. You can volunteer to teach computer literacy classes at the library or read to children. The point is that this experiment doesn’t have to be a big deal. It doesn’t have to be about money, in fact it may be better if it isn’t about money. Just look within yourself and discover something which you have knowledge or which you excel in and then find a way to give it a try. Find a way to teach it to others.

I’ve done this several times in my life. I volunteered to write a review about movies playing at the theatre in our town and wrote a review every week just for the fun of it. It wasn’t paid so the paper was happy to print it and it turned out to be a lark! The girl who checked us out at the grocery store called me, “Mr. Movie” and I gained some small notoriety in town while enjoying movies at a whole new level. The theatre manager invited me to view pictures after the last showing while they were cleaning up. So I no longer had to pay to get into the movies and I could take a friend (usually a daughter) and he even gave us complimentary popcorn. The fun of reviewing movies and talking about them was a great deal of fun.

Recently we hosted a party at our home for some close friends. We taught each of them how to make two stained glass decorations, a pair of hearts were sandblasted into red glass and installed into a wooden frame. Then we made a two piece stained glass heart. Everyone had a great time and we were all successful with our projects. Afterwards, we enthusiastically brainstormed about what other projects we could do. A fellow who is gifted at wood work wondered what project he could teach us and the woman who is a gifted card creator was considering a class. The point is that we all had so much fun leaning and sharing, that we want to do it again.

If you will look around yourself, you will discover an interest and you should find a way to share that interest. Our stained glass studio sends out a free monthly tips and tricks newsletter. We do this because we are interested in stained glass and we like to stay in touch with other artists.

Does it make us rich? No, not at all, but it does make us friends. We get comments and photos from stained glass artists from all over the world! And this fills us with the joy that others have for the art of stained glass. When we started selling stained glass instructional videos and dvd’s on Amazon, we started to hear from a different group of artists. These were folks who were trying stained glass for the first time. And their enthusiasm for the art rekindles the “newness” of the art for us all over again.

Finally, we sometimes discover some very talented people who teach us and inspire us to become even better artists ourselves. There is a synergy that you can develop when you teach others what you know.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hosting A Stained Glass Party

It's the middle Of February already! We enjoyed Valentines Day (the day before) by inviting some friends over for a Stained Glass party. It was so much fun, our friends had a great time and really enjoyed the projects.

What we did to make it a success was to select projects that would be very easy and quick to complete. We started with a sand blasted design with two hearts. The glass was pre-cut before they got here and we had the frames pre-built. We introduced the project by showing what the completed project looked like. Then we showed how they would clean the glass, apply the rubber resist and the paper pattern. We then passed out craft knives and turned them loose. The sand blasting step went quickly, each person got to do the first blast as they got ready, then they went back to the table to remove the second heart cutout while other finished theirs.

The second project was a quick two piece heart. This gave each of them a chance to cut, grind, foil and solder glass.

It was so fun, we think we'll do it again and we recommend that you think about hosting one of your own.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Being Enthusiastic

The other day at a business meeting, I illustrated a point by talking about the gorgeous window we had laying on the bench in our studio. Later, I was told that as I present our message to potential clients, we need to be cautious not to be overly enthusiastic about our artwork.

This was a surprise. Apparently, you can be too enthusiastic and you wear the people out with your enthusiasm. This is funny to me, yet I can see the point. I've met people who wore me out with their energy. But so many of our clients, especially during the first weeks of getting a window, get so excited and happy about their art work, they can't contain themselves. So the lesson I'm learning is that excitement must be limited until the person has experienced it for themselves.