American Glass Guild - January 2021 Newsletter

Updated: Jan 17, 2021

We are very excited to bring our members a clean and sanitized 2021 Virtual Conference Saturday, June 5, 2021. Check out our 2021 Conference Page for more details!


Letter From our President, Kathy Jordan

We are in the midst of the most unusual of times and its profound effect has been felt amongst us all. Out of an abundance of caution, our board made the difficult decision to cancel two (in person) conferences. Our Board and the volunteers that work behind the scenes bring an array of talents and under these circumstances, their intuitive and creative spirits have prevailed.

Our members originally created the American Glass Guild both to teach and to learn. A large part of what we’re about, and one of the original drivers that led to the formation of the AGG, is education. Many of our members are accomplished designers, fabricators, conservators, and historians. We are all the benefactors of this generosity and in an effort to stay connected and honor our mission statement (even in the midst of a pandemic), the AGG believes it is critically important to actively share this knowledge by offering a virtual conference this June.

The Conference Committee led by Amy Valuck, David Fode, and Tony Glander are busy bringing this virtual event to life. We will launch more detail in January. We are proud to say, year in and year out worldwide experts in stained glass, architectural art glass, and allied fields will share their knowledge and expertise. Exploring the old and new, the use of light, and pushing the limits of creativity and technology while honoring the tradition of stained glass are just a few of the topics covered.

We encourage all to join the virtual glass conversation in June of 2021, visit with your peers, make new contacts, be inspired and expand your horizons. I will reach out after the new year and share more details about our virtual conference and the list of speakers and exciting events after the new year is welcomed in.

Finally, with a heavy heart, I share the news of Mary Clerkin Higgins’s recent passing. Mary was a founding member of the AGG and served a two-year term as President in 2010-2011. Her contribution and steadfast direction helped build a strong foundation for the American Glass Guild. Since 1976, Mary devoted her career to glass, conserving historic stained glass and creating original new work. Please take a moment to listen to Shawn Waggoner’s podcast, Talking Out your Glass: Mary Clerkin Higgins: Creating and Conserving Masterpieces.

Please save the date of June 5th on your calendars! The beauty of camaraderie and creativity inspires us to move forward and reassures us there is much to look forward to.

Be inspired,

Kathy Jordan


Celebrate Your Fellow Guild Members

As glass artists, we hold an important tool for dealing with troubling times. Although some people believe that hardship and strife foster creativity, modern science supports the theory that making art relieves stress. It is a way to examine our relationship with the world and to communicate a personal, political, or spiritual narrative; to tell our story. Creating art also provides a sense of mastery, personal empowerment, and control.

We asked AGG members to tell us what art and creativity means to them during this time of challenges, isolation, and change. Based on the following stories, it seems that we are not only creative but resilient. These members have taken advantage of 2020 as a time of personal growth and are looking forward to 2021.

Susanna Conaway

In the past four years, working in glass has become a way to connect with others and is an act of collaboration. This has unfolded as I work with more homeowners, and realize that the exchange of ideas actually pushes me to create in ways that are unexpected. I've grown to appreciate these connections and the conversations about design and color that happen during the process of creating a window for someone's home. Coming from a fine arts background, at first, I was torn with these interactions. I wanted to do my own thing! I now look forward to the input and ideas that make me grow and create in unexpected ways.

During this time of Covid, I have found these connections calming and uplifting. People are investing in their homes, and I get to help them make their homes into a peaceful nest. I enjoy hearing what people choose to surround themselves with in their homes, how they think about the space, the importance of when the building was built, and biographical elements that will be featured in the window.

My time in the studio is solo, which is necessary for my well being and balance. Opening my studio door is such a joy. Seeing my space again, and getting ready to start my day, working in glass. I have lots of sunlight since it is on the 2nd floor. I moved into a larger studio a year ago, so the space is organized to be efficient. I have been working full time in glass for 5 years. Before that, I still did commissions, but had many side jobs.

The windows I am sharing are recent commissions. “Yosemite Landscape” was made with kiln formed glass, and screen printed clouds. It was for a client who spent time at this area in Yosemite with her family.Radiant” is an entryway for local artist, Deborah Yoon. This window was designed based on some of this artist's personal work. I combined her request for a radiating flowing stained glass window with her own work, which has similar elements. I also used some of her line work. Working in this way pushed me to do more glass painting, and explore a different direction in glass.

Martin Mangold

Martin Mangold began stained glass classes at Weisser Glass Studio and Gallery in Kensington, Maryland after retiring from careers in music and information technology in 2018. His lifelong enjoyment of Benjamin Franklin led his niece to suggest he have Franklin-related windows in his library, and that's where the trouble started.

As the election of 2020 approached, people on each side were predicting the end of our country should the other side prevail. As a lifelong admirer of Benjamin Franklin, this reminded me of a comment he made during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. His wandering mind wondered if a nearby image -- the sun on the horizon -- was a rising or a setting sun. He also wondered whether the United States of America was beginning or ending. After serious doubts, he said, “At length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun.”

We all know the sun doesn’t rise or set by itself: the earth rotates, and our view changes. Like the sun, our best idea of America is always out there, regardless of the events of a particular time. To hold this thought, I designed two leaded panels for a pair of windows in my office to remind me that the sun was outside, shining in all directions.

I wanted the two panels as close as possible to see one globe, and also soften the structural elements of the underlying window, so the horizontal and vertical elements use more opaque glass. To keep the room connected to the garden outside, eight of the rays are fully transparent.

The transparency accommodates a squirrel in the 7:00 area of the 2nd photo.

I love how stained glass throws colors into a room, so that’s where the lighter yellow rays and the blue and green bands come into play. You can see how the afternoon sun reaches the floor in the 3rd photo.

I enjoyed combining the design goals with the recognition that sometimes this country seems impossible. I hope our country, and these windows, see us through many years to come.

Don Burt

I think many of us are drawn to glass art from a visceral or hardware response. Evolutionary psychology programs animals to respond to glittering and gemlike visual stimulation. I just happen to be in the higher percentile of response intensity than most other creatures and I suspect many of my stained glass friends are similarly afflicted. The AGG is a welcome source of group therapy for this MSS (Magpie Stimulus Sensitivity).

I realize that apart from the tragedy of disease, the social aspects of the pandemic have been tough on extroverted, mobile, and employed people. I'm not especially any of those things. During the pandemic, I've been largely squirreled away in my basement playing with glass and waiting out this uneasy year. It's the holiday season so my main activity in the studio has been holiday suncatcher ornaments. I've attached a few photos of what I've made this year, including the ornament. As content as I may sound, I still can't wait to emerge from the isolation and interact with my AGG friends again. Since we need to meet virtually for the time being, I am focusing on making the most of it.


Meet Your Newest Board Members

Bruce Buchanan

Hello, I’m Bruce Buchanan, one of the latest members added to the American Glass Guild Board of Directors. I am serving as Auction Chair. I’ve only been involved with the AGG for a few years, but have been working professionally in stained glass for 20 years.

In 2000, having studied graphic design and earned a degree in Art History, I was working a mind-numbing office job in Cleveland, Ohio. An odd turn of events had me wondering what I would do if I could do anything else for a job, and I thought of mosaics or stained glass. I put it out there, someone knew someone, and 6 weeks later I was climbing on churches for the late Jim Whitney at Whitney Stained Glass. I took painting classes with Dick Millard, and learned as much as I could on restoration projects of every stripe. After a few years, I moved on in something of a journeyman phase to do glazing, painting, and installation work for other local studios. I eventually settled in at Henninger’s, a religious goods company closely affiliated with the Diocese of Cleveland. I helped them set up their glass studio, restoring windows and creating new work with them for almost ten years.

In this time, I attended a number of Kathy Jordan’s painting classes in Cape May, NJ and Media, PA. There, having spent time with glass artists from around the country, I came to recognize how important community and relationships are in our field. 

In 2017, I opened my own glass studio, Bruce Buchanan Design, in 78th Street Studios, a Cleveland Arts Complex. My work is primarily residential commissions and restoration, though I’ve done some church projects for Willet Hauser. I’ve shown my autonomous panels in gallery settings and am currently working on some sculptural installation pieces.

Though it is my tendency to be a hermit and work in solitude in my studio, I’m doing my best to embrace community an