Around fifteen years old, while visiting my friend, Rand in Encinitas CA, he brought out a small piece of deep red and blue stained glass he had put together in a craft class.
This has around 1971, the early beginnings of the hippy craft movement.
And I thought: “That’s incredible - you can learn to make stained glass somewhere? I want to!”
I was completely captured by the idea.
I must have mentioned it to my dad, because on my 16th birthday, he took me to Reg Green’s house/shop in Costa Mesa.
I know very little about Reg except that he had worked in the glass industry for a long time, and was an old guy repairing chipped crystal, resilvering old mirrors, and fixing broken stained glass out of his backyard workshop.
He showed me how to cut glass for a few minutes -
“You can be a blind glassman, but not deaf, pay attention to the sound.”,
handed me a glass cutter and said: “Come back when you think you’ve got it.” The same followed with leading, soldering, etc. He showed me how, then I taught myself.
Pretty soon, he was passing on stained glass repairs, and custom commissions - sweet.
I never worked in a glass shop - that’s a separate amazing skill, but I too was now a “glassman”, able to tell how a piece of handmade glass would cut, just by feeling it under my fingers, and making beautiful stained glass - awesome!
Both him and his wife were great to me - I felt fortunate.
Time passed, we lost contact for several years, I heard that he moved back to his homeland, Canada.
Knowing his son was a glassman in a local shop, I looked him up, and gave him a portfolio of how far I had come - (by now, I was painting for a living) - “Give this to your dad, thank him and his wife, I want him to see what grew from those days.”
A month later,
a letter arrived that told me Reg had indeed seen my work,
from his hospital bed,
stained glass, cast glass, paintings, prints - it made him happy .
He died the day after.