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.