Chicago School of Glass Art

Chicago's Glass Art Studio


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Class Project Finished

Here is the finished class project for our group of four people. the fifth character was made by Peter.  The theme was a “Band” and  we each picked out an instrument that we wanted to play, so you are looking at an accordion player, flute player, drummer, banjo and saxophone. Definitely an interesting Band.


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Hangin Tree

So here you go beginning to end. This is my main project I did in the Peter McGrain class and I have to tell you if you ever get a chance to take a class with Peter do it! I have taken classes with several famous glass artists and Peter ranks up there as one of the best. He brings a lot of energy and excitement to his class and guarantees that there is little to no down time.  As a flatwork artist Peter has opened my eyes to a whole new world of glass.  I should have a picture of the class project soon.


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Early Notice

As a reminder to all of those that have been asking about our Glaskolben, Christmas ornament glass blowing class, keep your eyes open to the calendar because this class goes quickly.  This class will run the first three Saturdays in November and the second Saturday in December.  This year, due to popular demand, we’re adding a weekday class on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  Don’t miss out on a fun filled day of glass blowing make some great gifts and have a few laughs!


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Stuck Beads

Having problems with your beads sticking to that mandrel?  No matter how well you put on that bead release you always manage to get a couple of beads that just don’t want to come off the mandrel.  When this happens there are a couple of things you can do. First make sure that you soak those beads in water for a couple of hours; hopefully, some of that water will work its way in a loosen up the bead release.  Once you have done this grab the mandrel with a vise grip and then grab the bead with a dry wash cloth. Slowly twist the bead in one direction and the mandrel in the opposite direction. Most of the time this works great for me, but if that does not work here is a strange idea that will. Go and get yourself a riveting tool. Yep you read that right a riveting tool. Feed the mandrel through the hole where the rivet goes and slowly squeeze the handle. The mandrel well slowly get fed through and when it gets to the glass bead it will either loosen the bead and you can just pull it off or it will just push the bead off as you squeeze the handle.  Great thing with this idea is that you wont bend up our mandrel! Give it a try you’ll be amazed!


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Struggling With Ideas

When you are struggling with ideas for your next piece and seem to have hit that mental roadblock try a few things to see if it removes that obstacle and allows the creative juices to flow again.

Share your thoughts and feelings with others. Sometimes when you get into a conversation with a friend it helps to start those ideas moving again.

This is the one I really like, observe! That’s right sit back and become an observer of the world and the things around you.  How lines in that tree come together, colors in the sky blend together to make that wild purple color. How many have sincerely looked at something and imagined how it would look like in a drawing, stained glass or in fused glass?

Collect your inspirations. Start a binder, or use a little zip drive. I carry a little black book a Moleskin style from Barnes and Noble or use your smart phone and start collecting images and drawings to help give you ideas.

There will be times that nothing seems to come to you. Don’t fight it because the more you struggle trying the harder it becomes to come up with ideas. Let it go and go do something else and in time something will come to you! Can’t wait to see your next project I know its gonna be great!


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Shiny Solder Lines

Now and then the question comes up “How do I get my solder lines to be as shiny as those you find on store bought sun catchers?”  Electroplate! That’s the answer, electroplate. The process used in electroplating is called electrodeposition.  An object that you want all shiny is placed in a liquid of metal ions the is electrically charged, the object is then given an opposing electric charge of the metal ion liquid.  With the electric charge the metal ions are attracted to the object thus coating the it with the metal. So, in the case of those store bought items they are plated and then  a clear shellac is placed over the metal making them look all shiny. It is an expensive process and in the stained glass industry is not common practice.

So, how do you address this if you want those shiny lines?  When you are done making your window make sure that you have cleaned your window well. We like to use Orvis soap, but there are many others you can use like Fels Naptha or other “pure” soaps, meaning ones that don’t have all that perfume stuff inside along with phosphates. Once the window is all clean and nice and dry you can put a glass polish or wax right over your window, buff it up and voila’ shiny solder lines. And its a lot cheaper!