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Students learn the art of stained glass in new class

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Shelly Birkelo
December 3, 2011

— Colorful images fired onto stained glass medallions sit next to piles of pattern books, boxes of Sharpies and other tools on two tables at the Janesville Senior Center.


Collectively, they provide ideas for six students selecting subjects for their first stained glass art project.


Mary Falk, Janesville, chose a colorful sunrise pattern for the sun catcher she's going to make. Falk's sister Lynn Wagman, also of Janesville, picked a mission flower design she hopes will become part of a coat rack.


"I've always liked stained glass, so I thought it would be interesting to see what I can and can't do," Falk said.


The women are enrolled in a beginners-only stained glass art class at the senior center. Richard T. Snyder, Janesville, teaches the class, donating his time and tools. Materials have been enhanced by the donation of stained glass, said Pat Tobin, senior center recreation programmer.


"I do this as a hobby—to educate people on the stained glass art," Snyder said.


"I love to teach it and see people be creative while giving a little bit back," he said, peering over his glasses while offering advice to a student.


"Number your paper pattern after you've squared it on the board and then place the EZ trace paper on top for tracing and cutting your pattern shapes for transferring them onto the glass," he said.


Carol Garry, Janesville, carefully followed his instructions and traced her pattern, summing up the skills and concentration required: "This takes preciseness and being very articulate."


"That's why you need to tape the tracing paper down," Snyder said.


Nearby, Linda Nelson, Beloit, was using White-Out to correct the penciled circular shape of her pattern on paper. Once she finished, she asked what she should do next.


"You number the pieces," Garry told her.


While Nelson focused on penciling in numbers 1 through 45 to each piece of her pattern, she suddenly wondered what she had gotten herself into when she realized how many pieces of glass she would have to cut.


Ten people attended Snyder's first class in September, but that turned out to be too many for personalized instruction. For the session that began in November, only six students were involved. The class is full, and enough people have already signed up for a third class Snyder plans to teach after the first of the year.


Tobin explained the popularity of the new class.


"Baby boomers like to try arts or crafts for the first time. They have that interest in something new," she said. "He's (Snyder is) making it possible for people to learn an expensive, detailed craft."


Snyder agreed.


"When people see how enjoyable and easy it is to create stained glass art, they'll realize it's a good hobby to get into," he said. "To be creative and build something on your own is a great joy."



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