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Archive for July, 2013

Glass Class

When I arrived back in Saskatchewan after Christmas holidays in January, I was itching for some kind of activity to get me through the winter. I wasn’t sure what to choose, but I wanted it to be something where I got to learn something I hadn’t ever done before and ideally, it would be creative.

One day after teaching I was walking through my old neighbourhood when I saw it. I was reminded of this adorable little store with large windows that featured stained glass, and more importantly people learning how to work with stain glass. When I lived in that neighbourhood, I would slowly walk by this beautiful store and tried to not too creepily (but probably failed ) look into the windows.  Not that it was hard for me to do, they were these enormous windows that looked onto these two very large tables, with soft lighting, and a trelis with ivy that hung over the table.  This place called out to me, and so eventually, I decided to answer. I walked in one afternoon and inquired about what exactly happened in this cute little place and wondered about how they could hook a sister up.

Inside I found an older gentleman whose accent I couldn’t quite place at the time (but later learned was Iranian) and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. He literally showed me how to cut glass right there and then just so I would understand how the classes worked, and then he convinced me to bring a friend with me because it would be more fun, he showed me pieces he had made around his store/studio, and I can’t emphasize enough how amazing of a space it was, so obviously, I signed up.

I have a creative mind, but have a real difficult time connecting what I want to do, with what I actually do. I have discovered through the sketching and painting classes that I’ve taken, that visual art tends to be a lot more mathematical than I previously assumed, which is probably why I have so much difficulty with it, but it doesn’t stop me from trying.

And try I did, with my trusty friend J, all through the winter months we toiled (and I’m not exaggerating) through our two projects. Monday nights we’d head on in to this beautiful warm space when it was -40 outside and got to work. The owner, Houssein has owned his store for 12 years and came quite late to stain glass, even though he was involved with visual arts for most of his life. Through talking to him, and watching him teach others, you understand why he does it, and it’s because he such an innate passion for it, and the more unique of a thing someone is passionate about, the more curious I am about that passion. What’s even more endearing  about Houssein and his studio is that he has this group of women that took classes with him when he opened his store, and they still come in and do their projects every Monday night, 12 years later. There’s probably about 8 of them that are such a lovely friendly group of women that seem completely at ease. In contrast, are the new, more transient students that sit at the other table looking worried and concerned at their ability of coming even remotely close to producing anything close to the beautiful things that surround them. It’s really easy to hate your own newbie work when these women are making jaw droppingly beautiful work beside you, and they say sweet things like “You’re doing so well!” or, “I wish I was that good when I started!”, and although you know they’re probably just saying it to be nice, you smile gratefully nonetheless.

I’m a sucker for creative spaces where people are brought together by a common love of something despite their very different backgrounds.  Make that into the feel good movie of the year, and I’ll be the first in line to see it in theatres with tissues in hand, I’m a sucker like that. Houssein would also make a pretty good character in a movie because he’s such a jovial character that always seems to say the right thing. I tend to be self deprecating when learning new things, I like to think it’s because I’m being realistic about the crappy work I’m producing and that I’m alleviating the instructor from having to break the hard news to me. So I’d say things like “I’m really sorry this sucks so much Houssein”, he would stop, put down his tools and say

“Lillian, if you know a lot about stain glass, then why are you in the beginner class?”

“Because I don’t know anything about stain glass”

“Oh right, so how about you let me judge your work, and you worry about learning”

“You’re right Houssein”

to which he’d usually immediately reply

“This…is not good”

to which I’d exclaim

“See!” while laughing.

And then he’d laugh.

This happened a lot.

He’d often also remind his students that “they must walk before they run”, like some kind of Yoda, because well, he just has that effect on people.

Houssein’s shop is like a candy shop for glass, every kind of colour, texture, size, opagueness (?) you could imagine, you could spend hours just pairing together a combination of different things you think would look magical together and then take a shot. I must admit, there’s a certain amount of satisfaction you receive when your instructor is just as or more excited about your project than you are, and I could always count on Houssein for that. I didn’t produce any amazing works of art, and to be honest, I probably won’t go any further with stain glass because there are other things I want to pursue, but Glass Class sure was an amazing time to spend the winter/spring of 2013, and I’ll always remember the warm glow of that studio.

Below are some pictures of the studio, classes, processes and final products! The redish/greenish mirror and Calla Lily are mine.

2013-04-15 21.19.182013-03-04 19.10.39

2013-03-04 19.10.192013-03-04 19.10.262013-04-15 21.06.062013-05-06 19.58.112013-04-15 21.20.12

2013-04-15 21.24.032013-04-15 21.21.48

2013-03-04 19.15.152013-03-04 19.34.402013-03-04 19.15.34

2013-02-11 21.45.002013-02-11 21.45.33

2013-04-22 20.31.022013-05-06 20.53.082013-04-15 21.06.49

2013-04-15 19.30.162013-04-22 20.25.352013-06-19 20.36.08

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