Barbara Merchant

I’ve always loved the look of stained glass and I wanted some stained glass pieces in my own home but they were either not “just right” or out of my price range.  A friend of mine wanted the same and luckily she found a place right here in Las Vegas that gave lessons.  Not only did she and I sign up but I talked my husband into taking the classes as well.  As soon as I cut that first piece of glass in that beginner’s class, I knew that this was the art form I wanted to put my artistic energy and imagination into.


As Ed and I signed up for more classes and continued to learn more about this art form and the possibilities.  We pushed our imaginations and pushed our teacher’s patience just a bit.  The first panel class we were told to pick a pattern with less than 15 pieces.  We did just that but then decided to push – instead of one each, we made three of them and made it so they hung down from one another in our side view by our front door.  Next was the 24” x 24” panel class.  No limit to the amount of pieces in our panel was mentioned and we each picked patterns that we liked.  We walked into class with our patterns and ready to get started.  Our teacher greeted us with, “Those are not beginner windows.”  I laughed and said, “What’s your point?”.  As it turned out, the other students had picked patterns with 40 or less pieces of glass in them.  Ours?  We each picked patterns that had over 200 pieces.  We became known as the “overachievers.”  Next class was learning about fused glass.  Taking glass, some imagination, lots of heat and voila, a beautiful dish, an interesting bowl, a shiny piece of jewelry.  Now to find a spot to add a kiln to my home workshop. 


From these classes, our hobby began.  But rather than buying pattern books, I decided I could break out my sketch book and started designing my own patterns.  What is more personal of a gift than a one of a kind piece of stained glass, designed by me and put together by my husband and myself?    A small sun catcher for a friend’s birthday, six matching candle holders for the family of a bride, and so it went.  Then something happened – friends wanted to buy our pieces.  An old classmate wanted one of our original panels to give to his mother for her birthday, a friend who loves whales wanted a piece to hang in her window, another friend wanted a floral piece for her home.  We were so excited and flattered that people wanted to buy our pieces.  It was hard to keep up considering we both worked full time jobs but we were enjoying what we were doing.


Then in 2009, I became a victim of the economy.  I was laid off from my full time job and no sign of another full time job in sight.  A friend of mine, trying to cheer me up, said, “When one door closes, another opens.”  My husband laughed and said, “There you go, honey.  You love designing and making your own glass art, why not work on selling some of it and start up your own business?”

And here I am.  With the support of my husband, my daughter, my mother, and my friends, I’m going for it.  Let me introduce to you…

Those In Glass Houses…

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