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Stained glass ornaments can make festive decorations, gifts for the holidays

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — For people who want to decorate their Christmas trees with handmade keepsakes, learning to make stained glass ornaments can be a fun way to share the holiday spirit with family and friends.

Lisa Wark of Mapleton is no stranger to the craft of stained glass. She is a co-owner of Glass With Class, LLC in Presque Isle and has taught five workshops dedicated to Christmas tree ornaments since opening in June. 

For those who want to tackle the craft at home, Wark recommends purchasing all the necessary materials, such as copper foil, a glass cutter, solder, a soldering iron, stained glass, a lead board, and patina, a liquid solution that changes solder from silver to dark gray or black for a smoother appearance, at a local craft or retail store.

Typically at ornament workshops, Wark and her shop co-owners, Martha Frank and Christa Judkins, cut the glass and grind the pieces into distinct shapes before students arrive. But anyone who creates ornaments at home must trace their chosen pattern onto a glass piece and then use a cutter to grind the glass into their preferred shape.

Wark said that for stained glass enthusiasts, there is a nearly endless number of holiday-themed shapes to choose from, including angels, Christmas presents, stockings, wreaths, snowmen, sleds, bells and mittens.

“Since the patterns are smaller, it can be easier than creating a larger stained glass piece that has a lot of details,” Wark said.

After grinding the ornament shape into the glass, crafters must wrap a string of copper foil around the glass, then further grind and smooth it. Next, they can solder all pieces of the glass pattern together with a soldering iron. They then wash the glass with patina.

If crafters are creating stained glass ornaments at home, Wark recommends they use a lead board — a type of board used to hold the bottom and side of a lead project in place.

Solder is made of 60 percent lead and 40 percent tin. Crafters should wear safety goggles and avoid working in kitchens or  any room with carpet floors or high-traffic areas, as glass shards often come apart and make for a messy workspace.

When the process is complete — after around two hours — crafters will have a shiny new stained glass ornament to hang on their tree or give as a present to someone special.Mother and daughter Amy and Keanna Daniels of Presque Isle attended an ornament workshop at Glass With Class on Saturday, Nov. 23. The workshop marked Keanna Daniel’s first attempt at a stained glass project.

“It’s nice to have a little keepsake of what you’ve done,” she said. 

Amy Daniels encouraged others to try their hands at creating stained glass ornaments.

“I kind of surprised myself with how well I did,” she said. “I think people will be surprised at how easy this actually is.”

Glass With Class is located at 499 Main St. in Presque Isle. The next Christmas ornament workshop will be held 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Classes are limited to 20 people. To register, email Christajudkinsgwc@yahoo.com.

Wark said that unlike Christmas ornaments from a store, the ornaments people make on their own with stained glass can be more special.

“You can hand down handmade ornaments to your kids. It’s a gift that’s more personal,” Wark said.

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