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Arts & Entertainment Turning Fire & Light into Glass

Art glass, like the pieces shown above, can take many hours and several firings to complete.If you have ever wondered how beautiful stained glass is made, Fire and Light Glass Studio owner John Phillips can tell you. Not only can he tell you, he can teach you everything there is to know about art glass and welcome you into his studio to learn how to create works of art using stained glass or fused glass methods.

Located just off Highway 441S in Otto, Phillips opened his 2,200 foot studio six years ago after moving from Duluth, Ga., where he started his glass business in 1980. Phillips decided to move to Otto and into a much smaller studio so he could slow down and relax a bit.

Phillips offers classes during the day and in the evenings for any age student. Because the studio is set back from the highway, Phillips says it makes for a quiet setting where students can concentrate on their work of art without noise or interruption.

Phillips explained what it takes to create glass art. “Some of the most complicated and expensive pieces of glass art can take 36-50 hours to create,” says Phillips. “Fusing different components together in different steps can take several firings in a kiln. Differing temperatures can create different effects. For simply bending glass, you need 1,250 degrees. For surface textures, you can use from 1,350 to 1,480 degrees and for total meltdown you would use 1,600 degrees. Glass is made of lime, silica and sandstone with elements such as copper, magnesium, selenium, cobalt, gold and silver added to create color.

John Phillips teaches 13-year-old homeschooler Andie Hyatt of Franklin how to make a Frit painting using a glass fusing process.“Of the glass art that is for sale here in the studio, 85 percent of it is made by my students and myself,” says Phillips. “Students can have their pieces for sale on a consignment basis. The remaining 15 percent are pieces from other area glass art studios.”

Every year, a new series of Christmas ornaments are created that customers can purchase for the holidays.

“While we were in Duluth we did production work for Princess Cruise Lines. We were doing anywhere from 100-200 windows per ship for seven straight years. I still do sample windows for the sales rep that was bringing us the jobs. We also made Wisteria lampshades for a casino and windows for the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

Phillips spoke of his own art with pride, and it’s obvious how much he enjoys it.

“I would say my personal crowning achievement and what I am proudest of is the windows we did for singer Toni Braxton. We did stained glass for her home when she lived in Duluth.

Sheets of colored glass come in countless colors and styles.“The most interesting thing that happened was when a customer had professional photographs taken of the windows we did for her home and had matching wallpaper made for the house.”

Phillips tells his students, “You have to become one with the glass in order to keep it from intimidating you.”

Classes can be as little as two hours to get your feet wet, Phillips says, or as much as six weeks for two hours each week. The cost for classes is $20 for a couple of hours or up to $125 for six weeks. All the materials you need are included in the cost of the class.

“We also provide workshop time for people who already know how to work glass but need somewhere to make their glass pieces.

“They can use the facility, which includes a full wet room for grinding, edging and sandblasting, to create their glass pieces. There is just a small workshop fee of $10 for two hours, but materials are not included for this service. We do offer discounts on materials for past students, though.”

Phillips is also involved in the local high school senior mentorship program, and has spent 15-20 hours teaching high school students. “There is nothing here that someone can’t come in and learn to do in the studio,” Phillips says. “It’s not until people come in and see what is here that they realize their own potential.”

A variety of how-to-books on glass art can help the hobbyist or the professional.Fire and Light Studio’s retail store has tools and supplies for students, for people who come to use the workshop or people who work at home. Cutting and grinding tools, kilns and torches for firing glass and materials for creating stained glass panels are available for purchase. Types of glass in stock include domestic glass, European mouth-blown glass, and handmade glass for fusing.

Phillips admits that for him, “Glass is an addiction. My love for glass is endless.”

The Fire & Light studio is located at 9788 Georgia Hwy. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch is from 1 to 2 p.m. everyday. Classes are addiction. My love for glass is endless.” The Fire & Light studio is located at 9788 Georgia Hwy. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch is from 1 to 2 p.m. everyday. Classes are held during the day and in the evening Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. Evening classes are 6 to 9 p.m.

To learn more about Fire and Studio go to the website at www.fireandlightglass.com or call Phillips at (828)349-4505.


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