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Pane-Staining Work

March 10, 2000|RICHARD KAHLENBERG | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

VAN NUYS — A modest business on Sherman Way with the intriguing sign "Flash Glass" is one of the few places in the San Fernando Valley where people can learn the skill and artistry of stained-glass technique.

Besides Flash Glass, there's Dragonfly Stained Glass Studio in Canoga Park and Brand Arts Center in Glendale. Classes are also available through Pierce College Extension.

At Flash Glass, which offers four-week sessions for $50 plus materials, shelves filled with uncut panes of colored glass can evoke a sort of childlike delight among practitioners.

"It's like Candyland in here," said student Chere Rae, who worked recently on a circular stained glass window under the supervision of teacher Joyce Dudnick.

While Dudnick's students are learning the fine points of stained glass in the front of the building, her colleague Earle Beard works quietly in the back making windows for local churches and art-glass architectural features for historic buildings.

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His recent commissions include a dozen huge windows in early 1900s style for the restoration of the Christian Science Church in Los Angeles' historic West Adams District and a set of Art Deco glass doors for the elevators in the 1920s-era Oviatt Building downtown.

"Our glass comes from the Kokomo, Ind., factory where [Louis Comfort] Tiffany got his," Beard said.

In this atmosphere, it's no surprise students quickly settle down to making fine stained-glass works.

"The rose-pattern project beginners do takes the full four-week sessions of four hours each," Dudnick said. "I teach them how to cut glass well."

Cutting and fitting glass takes up the first three sessions. The final session is devoted to soldering the lead structure, which holds the glass pieces together.

Dudnick is popular with her students, many of whom re-enroll in workshop sessions after completing the introductory course.

"I came back here because I needed to cement these skills in my head by repeating the [basic] project from beginning to end," said student Michelle Cohen of Granada Hills.

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Instructors at the other stained-glass schools in the Valley say they have experienced similar enrollment trends.

"Our classes are always booked," said Skip Vasquez, who teaches at Dragonfly Stained Glass Studio through Pierce College Extension and through private bookings.

The extension course, "How to Make Glass Windows," costs $70 plus materials for five Thursday sessions.

The Brand Arts Center in Glendale will offer 10 Wednesday morning or evening classes next month for $60 plus materials.

BE THERE

Flash Glass, 16139 Sherman Way, Van Nuys, (818) 782-3690. Pierce College Extension, (818) 719-6425. Dragonfly Stained Glass Studio, 21053 Victory Blvd., Canoga Park, (818) 340-0245. Brand Arts Center, 1601 West Mountain Blvd., Glendale, (818) 548-2184.

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