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Frequently Asked Questions

    Here's where you will find answers to your shipping questions. If you do not see your question, please send us an email and we will add it to this page.
  • Do you ship?
    Yes, we do ship, to the U.S. only! We ship via the U.S. Postal Service, First Class, Priority. Stained glass is heavy and requires special packaging. Shipping rates include: postage, handling, packaging and insurance. Shipping rates are based on your zipcode.
  • When is your studio open?
    Our studio does not have regular business hours. It is next door to our home, so we can be there to meet you with advance notice. Please call us at 207-454-2832 or text us at 207-904-7140 to let us know when to expect you.
  • What is the process to order a custom piece of stained glass artwork?
    For custom or commission work, you can reach out to us via telephone, email or in person. Maybe you like an existing panel that is already designed and created, but want it in different colors – say a different color for the border in a loon or scenery panel. We ask for a 50% deposit, create the panel, and the remainder would be due upon completion. You might want a completely unique design. This is a very interactive process. We'll go over the following: Desired size Shape (round, square, octagon, oval, half-round, rectangular, abstract, etc.) Anticipated location of completed panel (bright, sunny window or muted lighting or interior installation) Will the panel be hung or will it need to be installed? If installed, then a template needs to be provided of the exact final location. Do you have a pattern or design you like or just a general concept and want us to create a unique one? Stained glass preferences (colors and textures) Often we ask for a photo of room and future location of panel, so we can get a feel for the area. What is your desired timeline to receive the completed panel? If the design must be created from scratch, or an existing design adapted into a new shape or size, Mark will estimate the cost to design an original creation as well as the cost to create it. The design portion of the work must be paid in full before Mark begins. The actual creation requires a 50% non-refundable deposit with the balance due upon completion.
  • Where can I learn more about how Mark selects his glass?
    Read about how Mark chooses the glass he uses in his stained glass creations here.
  • What is the history of stained glass?
    There are many stories of how stained glass came into being. One historian, Pliny, believed that the Phoenicians discovered glass. The Phoenicians are most remembered for their sea travel and trading. During this travel, the stories are told that while docked on shore, they would build fires on the beaches. The combination of the sand and wood ash acted upon by the heat from the fire created glass. Of course, other historians doubt Pliny’s version since his accuracy of history was often questioned. While it is known that glass has been in use in the European countries since medieval times, it is believed that stained glass windows were first introduced to the United States in the mid 1800’s. The first stained glass graced church windows and is still enjoyed to this day. Regardless of who discovered how to create stained glass, we consider ourselves lucky to be able to enjoy the art of stained glass.
  • How is stained glass made?
    A very basic glass can be made from a combination of sand and wood ash heated to high temperatures, around three to four thousand degrees. If the raw materials have impurities, then the resultant glass will have impurities as well. Through the many years of trial and error, it was found that quartz sand provided the best clarity in the final glass. It seems hard to believe that by melting one of earth's most common natural substances, sand, that it is possible to create glass. Of course, the combination of ingredients to make a desirable stained glass requires a formal recipe with specific ingredients. In order to make glass in various colors or “stained” glass, other minerals are added to the original mixture. For example, the addition of iron will create green glass; the addition of cobalt will create blue glass; and the addition of gold will create red glass. Once the ingredients are compiled, as with any recipe, you would need to know how long to cook it and the appropriate temperature. There are various methods to create sheets of glass. In one method, molten glass is blown into a large cylindrical shape. Then, the cylinder is slit down the middle allowing the cylinder to open into a flat sheet. In the mechanical method, the molten liquid is drawn from the furnace onto sets of rollers. The rollers may be smooth or textured. If textured, the design would be imparted onto the sheet of finished glass. In yet another method, the flat sheet of molten glass would be additionally handled to create different patterns or finishes. After the glass leaves the furnace or kiln, it must be allowed to cool at a very regulated pace. This process is called annealing. If this is not done properly, the finished glass can become brittle or cloudy and would not be desirable. The creation of beautiful stained glass is an artform in itself. It requires specific recipes, equipment and procedures. There are many different manufacturers of stained glass and each of these have particular stained glass that is their specialty.
  • How is a stained glass panel made?
    There are seven steps, from start to finish. I often do demonstrations at the art shows and for school students, showing all the stages in a condensed format. 1. Pattern I start with a hand drawn picture on paper. While it is certainly possible to order patterns on line or purchase a book of patterns, I prefer to use my imagination and my customers' ideas to create truly unique patterns. Once the picture is drawn, a cartoon must be made. Think of a cartoon like a puzzle with all the individual pieces. There is master cartoon, all in one piece, and then one that is cut into the individual pieces. These are drawn on heavier poster paper. 2. Glass Selection I choose the stained glass that I will use to create the panel. Depending upon the complexity of your pattern, you may have many different colors and types of glass. 3. Cutting the Glass Each piece of the cartoon is laid on a piece of glass, the edges are traced onto the glass with a marking pen. Then, the glass is cut by hand, using a glass cutter. Of course, it is rare for a piece of glass to cut perfectly the first time. With unique art glass, the glass is in layers like pastry dough, so the edges are often uneven. You can use grossing pliers to smooth up some of the edges. It is always better to have a piece be a little bit large to begin with. If it is too small, then you will have to cut another piece. 4. Grinding the Glass Pieces The edges of the glass pieces are now ground to be sure they fit perfectly together. The original master cartoon is used as a template and you place your pieces of glass on it to be sure they match smoothly with no overlaps or gaps. Once every piece of glass is cut, ground and fitted, it is time to move on to the next step. 5. Foiling the Glass Pieces The foil comes in a roll and is a thin layer of copper with an adhesive back. Each edge of each piece of glass is wrapped with the foil evenly and tightly with an even overlap on the front and back of the glass. Foil comes in various widths to accommodate different thicknesses of the glass sheets. As the glass is foiled, the pieces are fit together on the master cartoon in the appropriate order. The pieces are held in place by pins. Once all the glass pieces for your pattern have been foiled, it is time to move on to the next step. 6. Soldering the Glass Pieces To prepare to solder, you must first apply flux to the copper foil. Now it is time to solder. The soldering iron must be kept at a constant temperature and kept clean. Since the soldering iron is hot, over 600 degrees, you must solder quickly and avoid staying in one place for too long. If you linger in one place to long, you may overheat the glass and cause the glass to break. Then, you would have to stop, cut, grind and wrap another piece of glass to replace the broken one. As you solder, make sure you are creating a consistent bead on each seam. Once the first side is completed, you will turn the panel over and go through all of these steps to complete the other side. A properly completed solder seam is essential for the strength and stability of your stained glass panel. This solder will actually form an “H” with the edges of the glass firmly held in each half of the “H”. 7. Finishing the Stained Glass Panel Wash the panel with regular liquid dishwashing detergent to remove all flux. Solder finishes in a silver color. If you wish to have the solder be a different color, now is the time to apply patina. Finally, to provide another level of stability, the outer endge of the entire panel will be wrapped in either lead came, which provides a thicker border than soldered copper foil, or the panel can be framed in a wooden border. Now is the time to hang your panel in a sunny window and enjoy!
  • Do you offer classes on how to make a braided rug?
    Available classroom instruction: I offer classes in braided rugs occasionally, either at my home in Robbinston, Maine or at the Cobscook Institute in Whiting, Maine. I have also held classes at other locations as needed. In my class, I like to have each class be around six hours long with a lunch break, with one class per week. This really gives everyone the necessary time to engage and not only begin their rug but to make real progress during each class. Over a four-week period, with a total of twenty-four hours of classroom instruction, it is possible for a student to create a two by three-foot oval rug during the course of the class. Of course, this is assuming that my students also continue their braiding and lacing as part of their homework! If this is the first time you have created a rug, I encourage students to experiment with available fabrics. I would feel bad if a student invested in a high-quality wool and found that they did not like creating a rug. Current wool prices are running about twenty-five dollars per yard so this can be a significant investment. I have had students create rugs from cotton sheets, which can make lovely placemats or centerpieces for your table. Used sweatshirts and pants can make a nice soft braided rug. Heavy flannel shirts can also make a lovely rug. It is great to experiment. The tools needed to create a braided rug are simple: scissors, pins, needle, lacing needle, clothespins, table clamp, tape measure and ruler. The supplies needed are fabric, sewing thread and lacing thread. I hope you find the desire to create your own braided rug. I find such satisfaction from creating rugs for my own use and to create rugs especially for my customers. My customers are able to select from rugs I have already created, or I can design and create a rug to their desired specifications of colors, shape and size.
  • How do you make a braided rug?
    There are eight steps to create a braided rug. Learn how to create a braided rug: There are many ways to learn how to create a braided rug. You could take a formal class, read a “how to” manual, watch a you tube video, or learn from a mentor. I learned from my grandmother. As a teacher, I believe a hands-on class is a great way to learn because you can not only see, you can also feel the fabric and watch what other students are doing. The questions and answers are interactive and allow for a greater learning experience. Decide on the shape and size of your braided rug. You need to decide on the shape and size of your rug. Think about where you want to place your rug – at the front entrance to your house, next to your bed, as a room accent, or as a centerpiece of your main room. The desired size would fit the selected space. The traditional rugs can be round, oval or rectangular. 2. Determine the color scheme and pattern. Next, you will need to decide on the color scheme and fabric to be used in the rug. Think about your desired placement of the completed rug; are there colors in that area that you would like to accent or compliment? When using a medium weight, woven wool fabric, a good rule of thumb is that it will take about one pound or one yard of wool to create one square foot of rug. The reason that it takes so much wool to make a rug is each strip of wool is folded in half and then folded in half again in the lengthwise direction. This results in each strip of fabric in your braid being four-fold. This is what makes your rug such a lovely soft rug under your feet. There is nothing better than walking up in the morning and the first thing your feet touch when you get out of bed is a braided rug! As you prepare to design your rug, it is helpful to practice braiding your chosen fabric. You want to practice until your braids are a consistent width and firmness. A braid that is loosely woven will not hold up as well as one that is tightly woven. My grandmother’s rule was that you should never be able to put your finger through a braid or between the braids. If that happened, I knew I would be redoing that section of the rug! Measure the width of your braid and calculate how many braids it will take to complete your desired rug size. Now, you are ready to design your pattern. It is helpful to chart this on paper which makes it easy to follow along as your braid your rug. This will help you to calculate the fabric yardage needed of the various colors so you don’t run short. Fabric is dyed in one run, and if you try to find a color match at a later time, you may not be able to find an exact match. You can also choose to not follow a pattern and just make a “hit or miss” rug. During my grandmother’s time, brightly colored fabrics were not as prevalent as black or gray colors. So, her three-ply braided rugs were often composed of a black strand, a gray strand and then the third strand was a combination of various bright colors. My very first rug was composed of black, gray and red fabrics. Even with no color changes in a rug, you can create a pattern if your braids are consistent and even. 4. Prepare the fabric. When I am creating a rug, I like to prepare all of the fabric ahead of time. It must be clean and washed. A good quality wool fabric can be ripped into strips by hand, while other types of fabric may have to be cut by hand or using a roller cutter. Then these strips are sewn together on a bias angle. If a straight seam is used it will create a bulky spot in your rug. I then roll these strips up in about a six-inch roll for ease of handling while you are braiding. 5. Start the rug. To begin your rug, the first three colored strips are sewn together to form a “T” shape. This is necessary to provide the anchor to be able to lace the braids together to form your rug. 6. Braiding the rug. Now, let the braiding begin! Your chosen rug shape will determine how you braid. For example, a round rug will begin with a number of braided corners, while a rectangular or oval rug will begin with a straight section of braid before a corner is made. As you begin to braid, it is important to keep a consistent firm pressure. This is made easy with a clamp that attaches to your crafting table or by using a floor model clamp. If this is not done properly, your braid will vary in width and then it will be hard to maintain the desired shape or pattern of your rug. 7. Lacing the rug. The next step is to lace the braids of the rug together. I use a heavy seven or nine ply braided lacing thread. This lacing thread is woven between the plies of the braids without ever piercing the fabric. Proper braiding and lacing will allow the rug to lay flat on the floor and to be reversed from side to side. Use of the proper fabric, lacing thread and techniques will allow your rug to become an heirloom to be passed down through future generations. Following your initial pattern, you’ll continue braiding, lacing and changing colors as planned. I like to braid for a while and then lace for a while. I have done this for so many years, that I do think I could do it in my sleep! It is great to watch the rug grow and take shape from the original bolts of fabric or old dress suits into a beautiful braided rug. 8. Finishing the rug. To finish off the rug, the final braid is tapered and woven into the body of the rug. This is done in such a way so that it is not apparent where the rug begins or ends and provides a nice smooth finish. One of my students thought this was a tedious step, however it is so critical to your finished rug. The more rugs that you create, the easier this process and all the steps will be. My estimate of the time needed to create a two by three-foot braided oval rug is forty hours. This means from preparing the fabric to finishing the rug. Or another way to look at it, is about seven hours per square foot of rug. This may seem like a lot of time, but remember, you are creating an heirloom! Now, step back and begin to use and enjoy your creation of a braided rug! To maintain your rug, vacuum both sides periodically. You can use a weak solution of laundry detergent and water to spot clean any spills. Or, you can have the rug professionally cleaned.
  • Where can I learn more about Arlene's history in fiber arts?
    You can read more about Arlene's history of braided wool rugs in her own words, as well as how she started making denim pocket quilts here. There is also a terrific article about her in the Cultural Adventures magazine.
  • Where can I learn more about the Wrenovations honey bees?
    Read all about our honey bees here.
  • What can I do to help the honey bees so they can continue to take care of us?
    1. Plant bee-friendly flowers and flowering herbs in your garden and lawn. Encourage native flowering plants and let your lawn grow tall enough to let the dandelions (and other flowers like white clover) bloom! 2. Reduce or limit the use of chemicals and pesticides to treat your lawn and garden. Especially while plants are in bloom and the bees are out foraging. Our gardens and yards are all organic. We find that bugs and pests are at a minimum because our gardens and yards are full of song birds and toads and they take care of a lot of the pests naturally. 3. Bees are thirsty. We gather rain water to use for our gardens during the dry spells. We float a few sticks or a rope across the top of the water to allow the bees to gather fresh water. Bees need something to land on to drink water or their wings will get wet and they can’t fly back to their hive. 4. If you are ready to do more than help bees and want to be an active beekeeper, learn how by finding a mentor and taking a class. While classes are great, it is not the same as looking into a hive and watching what is happening on a periodic basis. The life in a honey bee hive is to be admired and all bees have a role to play for the hive to be successful. 5. Spread the word in your community to encourage bee friendly yards and open spaces and discourage the use of pesticides and chemicals.
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