My Glass Wings team is TBA featured artist
My Glass Wings was recently described as “a working stained glass studio.” A very apt description of a downtown Alpena business that has been at 106 N. 2nd Ave. for 16 years and is the Thunder Bay Arts featured artist for November and December.
The mission statement for MGW has been:
To share a love for art glass with our customers By translation, design and creation while providing an atmosphere and opportunity For self-expression and discovery.
Custom work, classes, and repairs are all happily delivered by a wonderful group of local women who have made the difference in keeping MGW alive and growing. Owner Tina Montgomery is very excited to share the gift of glass from all of us with all of you through the Thunder Bay Art Gallery for the months of November and December.
Keeping in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines, there will not be a reception for the My Glass Wings Artists. Their work will be on display at the Thunder Bay Arts Gallery. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Public is always welcome!
Flexibility. Patience. Coaxing. Those words could just be about Tina’s time as an Air Force spouse that took her halfway around the world from Michigan. Or perhaps the words describe her ability to stop midstream working on a church window that uses the old techniques of lead and cement to answer a customer’s question about maybe beginning classes. Those words could be just about the glass itself. Tina describes the glass as if it has a will of its own. It has to be coaxed to take the shape she wills upon it, the patience to cut just a bit of glass at a time to fit the pattern without breaking, and the flexibility to change when all of that planning just does not work.
It is more than the art, also.
Since 2004, My Glass Wings has been a mainstay on 2nd Avenue. Tina’s experience in offices, banking, and bookkeeping and obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Business set the stage for her to become a business owner.
That love for art glass started in 1998 at the Michelle Louise Glass Studio in Alpena. It was an advertisement in the newspaper that brought Tina in the door and onto her first project. Soon she was teaching classes and working in the studio through 2003. When the studio closed, Tina taught students at her home until she opened My Glass Wings. Students kept coming.
Even with current COVID-19 restrictions, the roster continues to stay full with students from years ago to beginners picking out their first 10-piece project.
Connie’s Cafe in Ossineke is a great place to see the work that is done in the My Glass Wings studio. The 130-square-foot arch in Connie’s garden has over 1,000 hand-cut pieces and took 18 months from drawing the first patterns, planning the construction for an outdoor stained glass project that the wind would not blow to shards, to leading and cementing the final piece of glass.
Another memorable project was for Tina’s son Nathan’s music studio. It was an illuminated sign using actual guitar strings and a copper foil technique developed by Louis Tiffany in the 1920s.
Tina first used fusing on a three-panel bay window piece in a Douglas Lake cottage. The patron wanted it to look like a watercolor but still block the view of the neighbor’s siding. The window did both.
Repairs really bring out the flexibility, mainly because of the difficulty of matching old glass. An older home here in Alpena had a lead window from the early years of 1900. There was hole in the bevel, but there was no currently produced piece that could match it. After much searching, Tina found a California studio that made a custom-matching bevel.
There is so much more to stained glass work than the glass panel to hang in a sunny window. Transoms, side lights, door fronts, panels, full windows, arches, mason light boxes, kaleidoscopes, and chandeliers are just some of the projects that have been done at the studio. Techniques taught include fusing, slumping, caning, and using copper foil, lead and cement.
The recent addition of a larger kiln allows larger pieces to be produced.
These beautiful projects can sound overwhelming to the novice, but the classes are done step by step and techniques are learned that carry over to the more difficult pieces.
Tina balances well instructing without hovering. It is a relaxed atmosphere that allows creativity to happen and art to be accomplished.
Mondays can be good, especially if that is the day you walk into the My Glass Wings Studio. Barb has been working with Tina the longest and is the Monday face of the store. It was the neighbor’s daughter who insisted that her mother and Barb get out more and that wish brought them to downtown Alpena and into Tina’s store. They signed up for a class and before their first project was even finished, they each ordered a grinder to work with at home. Now Barb has a home studio and does a lot of the holiday items that can purchased in the store.
Barb’s advice for newcomers is to remember it is just a piece at a time or step by step. If the glass breaks, cut a new one. Recently, Barb was working on the Nativity piece to be displayed at Thunder Bay Arts Council and Gallery. The irridized yellow glass for it was quite brittle and would not be coaxed into shape. It took a week of soaking and then the cutting was done successfully.
Barb’s work ranges from her first piece of a hummingbird and flowers to classic cars done for a car rally. She does special items like snowmen, pumpkins, unicorns and bunnies that are popular with the walk in customers for gift giving.
This artist is from Alpena and has worked with stained glass for over 15 years.
After a friend convinced her to go for a walk in downtown Alpena, they stepped into the My Glass Wings Studio. Judy decided to take a class, and then quickly realized she was hooked.
Judy is an excellent teacher and her work ranges from dragonflies, flowers, suncatchers and spinners to large glass pieces and repairs. Along with My Glass Wings customers, her family and friends have enjoyed her work for years.
LYNN AND ALEXIS
Lynn and Alexis work along with Tina teaching classes.
Lynn has been working in the store since Tina opened. With well over 15 years of experience, she has an eye for unique textures and colors. Working with the student, Lynn simplifies projects resulting in less cut glass and waste. Of course, there really isn’t anything such as waste cut glass since Lynn has a way of seeing new projects when looking at the leftovers of completed works. She teaches to the student’s level of expertise with an emphasis on having fun.
It was a sunny day in January when Alexis passed by My Glass Wings. The color and the warmth of the stained glass in the shop windows just drew her into the store. That was more than 10 years ago. She has since done some large projects such as church windows and memorials. Working with stained glass allows her to “push the envelope” using color, shape and form. Alexis loves seeing the students faces just light up during class when they discover a new technique or finish a project. She says even if you cannot draw, there are many patterns available to help you make your own piece of art.