20Q: Catching up with glass artist Judy Shumway


Editor's Note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area's arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person's artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.

Judy Shumway

After working at in the accounts receivable department at Lab Safety Supply (now Grainger) for 18 years, Judy Shumway opened The Glass Garden, a 3,600-square-foot stained glass craft shop in downtown Janesville.

The full-service shop at 25 W. Milwaukee St. offers lessons in a variety of stained glass, fusing, etching and painting techniques. The Glass Garden also sells finished glass art such as stained glass panels, jewelry and other unique gifts, and it carries a full line of supplies for glass hobbyists.

Shumway lives in Janesville with Dale, her husband of 34 years, and their cats. She holds an associate degree from Blackhawk Technical College and enjoys reading, needlework and traveling in her spare time.

For more information about Shumway and The Glass Garden, call 608-754-3718 or visit eglassgarden.com.

1. You sell glass art supplies. What is the single most sought-after item, and why do you consider it so?  Sheet glass, because it's so much easier to purchase glass you can actually see than through pictures online.

2. How did you first become interested in glass art? I have enjoyed stained glass forever, and I finally took the plunge and learned how to do it myself. That was 22 years ago, and I haven't stopped working with stained glass since.

3. Is Janesville a hotbed for glass art? What makes you say that? I wouldn't call it a hotbed, but there are a lot of people who appreciate the beauty of it. Some have us make projects for them, and others learn how to do it for themselves.

4. What was the first piece you ever created? It was the project I made in my beginning stained glass class.  It was a hummingbird, and I still have it.

5. Do you listen to music while you're creating, or do you find it distracting? We always have the radio on at the shop, and we listen to mostly soft rock.

6. What is the strangest request you've ever received for glass art? We've been asked to work on the windshield of a car.

7. What has been the most intensive glass art project on which you've worked? There have been several over the years. We have made full door panels, large window panels, sidelights, etc. The size is what makes it intensive because you have to take into account structural aspects so that it doesn't collapse.

8. What is your favorite color to work with? It doesn't really matter the color if we're making custom pieces. For myself, I like the clear textures available.

9. What were your first job and your worst job? My first job was as an aide at Mercy Hospital (in Janesville). My worst job was working on an assembly line, where I lasted all of two days.

10. Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? I would say I'm more of an extrovert because I enjoy talking to people.

11. When I think of “glass art” I think of stained glass. Is that all you do? Stained glass is a very large part of what we do here, but we also do repairs of all sizes and difficulties and also teach fusing glass (melting layers of glass together), etching on glass and we sell supplies.

12. What is the most difficult/dangerous aspect to working with glass? The glass is sharp, and when we solder the panels, the soldering iron gets very hot.

13. What is a common mistake beginners make when working with glass? Not getting the project square and not cutting the glass accurately enough for a good fit.

14. Some older homes have lead glass windows. With concerns about lead, what changes have been made in glass art to avoid its use? There is very little lead in those windows, but we do make sure to recycle the old lead channel when replacing it.  Also, we have lead-free solder available.

15. How does glass become “stained”? What is the process? The glass does not actually become stained.  When the glass is made, chemicals are added to give it color. It is done in the manufacturing process.  When I buy it, it is already colored.

16. When assembling a new piece, do you follow a template or work on the fly? We always have a pattern we work from. Sometimes it's a pattern we make ourselves, and sometimes it's one previously made.

17. Do you collect anything? No. I used to collect “Cat's Meow Village” wooden houses.

18. What is the wallpaper on your cellphone right now? It's a picture of one of my cats.

19. If you could choose any other profession, what would it be? Since I started teaching stained glass classes, I think I'd want to be a schoolteacher.

20. Some people work in glass art as a hobby, but for you it's a living. What do you do for a hobby? After many hours on my feet each day, when I have time, I like to cross-stitch since I can do it sitting down.

Know someone involved in the local arts/entertainment community you think would be a great subject for 20Q? Email kicks Editor Greg Little at glittle@gazettextra.com.

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