Summit Right Brain: Gail Shears hosts stained glass demonstration in Keystone
if you go
What: Stained glass demonstration with Gail Shears
When: Saturday, Oct. 15; noon to 2 p.m.
Where: The Art Gallery at Keystone Lake; 22138 Hwy 6, Dillon. Park in the lot across from Keystone Lodge, the gallery is along the lake to the east of the lodge.
Gail Shears is not one for boredom. After retiring as a sixth-grade teacher and moving to Summit County, she now wrangles 155 Copper Mountain volunteers as an ambassador lead. After a long career as a teacher, it’s a new challenge that comes with its own rewards.
“My ambassadors have as much enthusiasm as my sixth-graders always had,” she laughed over the phone from her daughter’s house in Boston. The new grandmother had just jetted out east before the ski season started to spend time with her first grandchild, a 1-month-old baby boy named Kevin.
Once Shears gets back from her trip, she will head straight to her first day at Copper Mountain. And over the weekend, she’ll be giving a demonstration on how to create stained-glass pieces, a skill she’s been fine-tuning for the last 40 years.
The artist first got into making the displays when a small stained-glass studio opened up a half-mile away from her house just outside of Rochester, New York. She had always been fascinated by glass art, so she decided to take a class.
“I was so thrilled when learning how to do it, that I wound up doing it
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more and more,” she said. “They were very patient, and they taught me a lot, and I thought my first piece was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, and of course I still have it and I look at it and go, ‘Oh dear.’ But you have to start somewhere. It’s one of those things that’s really not as hard as it looks if you have the setup, like the glass cutters and the grinders and the soldering iron, and you have somebody to guide you.”
Shears will demonstrate the process of creating stained glass at the Art Gallery at Keystone Lake, a co-op gallery where she is a member. The class will be Saturday, Oct. 15, from noon to 2 p.m.
Shears likes to use the Tiffany style to create glass, which she said allows for more detail. Tiffany glass refers to varied types of glass developed and produced from 1878 to 1933 at the Tiffany Studios in New York, by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
“He also was the one, that prior to that all stained glass windows were religious, and he went more into more nature,” she said. “He would use — when you see some of the windows — a lot of time there is more nature and less saints ascending into heaven.”
The process starts with an idea, Shears said, and she then creates a pattern, picking the colors she will use. Tracing the pattern on a piece of glass with a Sharpie, Shears will cut the piece with glass-cutting tool, and then use a grinder to smooth down the edges, and fine-tune making the pieces fit together.
“When you’re making a stained-glass window, for example, and you need to solder it together; the solder only sticks to metal, it doesn’t stick to glass,” she said. “So with each piece of glass, you wrap it around with adhesive back copper foil. Then you smooth that down.”
Using a chemical called flux, she solders the front and the back, touching up spots at the end. There are several steps to clean the project up, but then it’s ready to go.
The process, depending on the complexity of what she’s creating, can take anywhere from an hour to four or five.
“It’s one of my passions, and I feel very fortunate to have something in my life that I enjoy and am passionate about,” she said.
Summit Daily News: What kinds of designs do you like to do for your stained glass?
Gail Shears: I enjoy almost all of it. I enjoy the snowflakes, the moose, the bear, the hummingbirds, what people enjoy seeing. I make more Christmas-y stuff at Christmas. … I’m up to like 250-something that I’ve brought over to the gallery in the last three or four years, and I’ve sold almost all of it.
SDN: Besides the Keystone gallery, where else could people have seen your work?
GS: It was on display at the Silverthorne library over the summer, sometimes I have some hanging up at Copper in the hallway near the ticket windows. … Mostly just at the gallery in Keystone.
SDN: You’ve lived in Summit for eight years, why did you move here?
GS: I’m a DU grad, and I graduated from DU quite awhile ago, and I’m a winter-loving person. When I retired from teaching, I taught mostly sixth grade in Pittsburg, New York, which is right outside of Rochester, and I loved what I did but I retired after 35 years, and I knew when I retired I needed to be in the winter mountain community. … In my last few years of teaching I checked out Telluride and Jackson Hole, and every time I’d come back to Summit County, I was a lot happier.
SDN: What will you be doing for the demonstration at the gallery?
GS: Sort of like they do cooking shows — you do this and this, and look what comes out of the oven. I’ve got a chart, and I will demonstrate what you need to know about creating the pattern, and the tools you have. Like I have a special pair of pattern shears, which are double-bladed, and then I’ll show how you cut glass and how you score it and snap it. And then I’ll show you how you copper foil it. I’ll have a whole bunch of copper foil pieces ready to go, and I’ll show people how to solder it together. So I’ll have the varying steps, and then I’ll show what a finished piece looks like.
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