Vendor Highlight – Glass Gem

Spring Bada Bing is just around the corner! We are so excited for this year’s show. We believe it will be one of our best yet! We have incredibly talented makers taking part in Spring Bada Bing and we wanted our customers to have the opportunity to get to know them a little bit better, so we will be highlighting several of them between now and the big day. Check back daily!

Richmond Craft Mafia’s Spring Bada Bing – at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

April 21st 11am-6pm

Meet Sue from Glass Gem

How did you get started making your products?

Started 15 years ago with a stained glass class in RVA

Tell us about your process.

There are two ways to do stained glass – both are somewhat complicated. There is the copper foil technique; cut the glass to the pattern, grind it to fit, apply copper foil to the edges & solder where those edges meet. Leaded stained glass is a bit different – cut the glass, grind it, then you build the panel by cutting the lead came to fit the glass pieces. Soldering is done at the intersections (where the lead channels meet each other). Once all that is done – you need to putty in between the glass at the lead – this holds the glass secure.

Do you have any new products debuting this Spring?

Yes – have started a series of “Geodespheres” – they are stained glass with geodes incorporated into the design. First one is “Earth Geodosphere” next one is called “Mars Geodesphere”, etc.

Of all of your products what is your favorite and why?

Really like this new series – allows me to use some really interesting glass. The process to add the geodes is fun – I use digital photographs and scanned in measurements – then I bring those images into the CAD program I use to make the designs. It’s new technology and old techniques combined to create the pieces.

How much time do you typically spend making each product?

That varies for size & complexity. If the pieces of glass are small they are actually harder to work with and therefore more time consuming. But larger pieces use more material so it’s a toss up!

What drives you to continue making? Who/what is your inspiration?

There are patterns and opportunity for designs in everyday things. I’ll take pictures of things when I see something that intrigues me. The glass will sometimes inspire me too – if it’s a cool texture or the colors are exciting.

What is the biggest hurdle you have overcome with your business?

People not realizing the time, cost of glass and the creativity that goes into each piece. Often hear things like “that’s to expensive” or “I could make that.” It’s tougher than it looks and glass and material (plus time) can be expensive. I once bought a piece of glass that was $75.00 a sq. ft. The panel I put it in was 14″ x 20″ and I’d used approx. 1 sq. ft. of that glass. That is $75.00 right off the bat!

What makes your product different than other similar projects?

I don’t think any two pieces of stained glass would ever be the same. While doing a dragonfly, chickens, Christmas ornaments, etc. help pay the glass bills. My hope is that people appreciate my actual art as well.

Tell us about your most memorable day as a maker?

Guess it was my first stained glass class. I’d been doing Mosaics and by husband suggested I take a stained glass class. 15 years later (and not so many mosaics anymore) I’m still in love with the craft. Now I take classes at the Visual Arts Center and I’m learning other techniques such as sand blasting and silver staining – thanks to Barbara Atkinson.

What do you watch or listen to while you are working?

Nothing usually – kind of get lost in the process. Each step helps me block out the day’s events – like grinding the glass not extremely cerebral but does help clear the mind. I do sometimes watch TV while foiling the pieces. Your just basically wrapping each piece with copper foil.

Do you support any important causes with your business?

I donate to various causes throughout the year. SPCA, Victory Junction, and the Disabled Veterans.