Glass artist gets the lead in

The home of a stained glass artist should have a proper stained glass entry, so Marietta Perkins is finally getting around to replacing the transom above her front door.For the moment, the new transom is a long sheet of paper stretched across her dining room table.

There are pencil markings showing how each piece of the glass puzzle will come together and will feature special pieces of glass -- a round sun face, a round moon face, faceted stars and sunrays.

The sun, on one side of the long, horizontal window, will be surrounded with yellows, oranges and reds. Toward the middle, the reds will blend with purples, which will eventually lead into nighttime blues and purples around the moon face.

Perkins and her husband, Richard, are hoping the beveled pieces of clear glass -- the stars and sunrays -- will produce lots of little rainbows in the foyer of their Stow home.

``The satisfaction that comes with this art is making something and then knowing, when you are done, that you made it,'' said the artist. Perkins, 44, took several technique classes beginning in 1986 from Leaded Glass II in Cuyahoga Falls. She also worked at the retail store and education center for about four years.

``I had painted and always did some type of art,'' she said. ``This was always something I wanted to try.''

Perkins has sold her work -- everything from small sun catchers and candleholders to larger pieces -- at art shows. These days, she mostly takes orders, pricing projects by the number of glass pieces used or the square footage.

Custom-designed pieces are a collaborative process. For example, when a client asked Perkins to make a seascape-themed transom, the client chose the fish and glass colors. That work featured about 1,000 different pieces of glass.

If the client does not want to replace an actual window, he or she can opt for a stained glass panel, which hangs from the ceiling directly in front of a window. She has also made windows for cabinet doors.

As a beginner, Perkins relied much on designs found in books. Now she draws her own.

``You really need to start small and build up your skills,'' she said. ``I started by making small gifts for my family.''

After Perkins draws out her design, she studies it to make sure all the glass pieces can be cut without breaking. If a piece is long and narrow, it is likely to break so she will go ahead and plan two pieces where she had initially planned one.

Once the design is final, she will make a copy of it, and number and assign a color to each piece. Then she will cut out each piece and use those paper shapes as patterns to cut her glass.

``It's really important to have good glass cutters and a good soldering iron,'' she said.

Once the pieces are cut, she wraps copper foil around every edge. The lead will be melted along these lines and the many pieces of her colorful puzzle will eventually become one.

Perkins plans to take a year off from her show schedule as she is busy with custom orders and her involvement with the PTAs in her two daughters' schools in the Stow-Munroe Falls School District.

One project she is looking forward to is transforming several beat-up, old storm windows into stained glass art. Perkins envisions putting a Victorian design in one old arched barn window.

600450 Glass artist gets the lead in
Date: 22 March 2004

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