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Sisters capitalize on the art of catching the sun

Pam, left, and Susan Spooner pose with a variety of stained-glass suncatchers they have created. Jay Pickthorn / The Forum1 / 2
The sun beams through one of Susan Spooner's stained-glass suncatchers. Jay Pickthorn / The Forum2 / 2

When the sun filters through Susan and Pam Spooners' stained glass suncatchers, they take on a life of their own.

A tree on a white background is transformed into a beautiful winter landscape.

A red maple leaf looks like it has caught fire.

Susan Spooner, Fargo, started creating stained-glass suncatchers nine or 10 years ago.

She started by taking classes. Soon she was helping with the classes. Now she sells her work at the Island Park Show in Fargo in August.

"My very first picture was a hummingbird drawing nectar out of a flower and it's now proudly displayed in my mother's bathroom against a dark wall behind a door," Spooner said. "I've come a long way since that piece."

Spooner usually finds patterns she likes and tries them.

"Sometimes they turn out. Sometimes they're kind of strange," she said.

She rarely does anything more than once, unless someone requests a specific design. Even then, the pieces look different.

"No two pieces are ever alike because the glass is different," Spooner said.

Spooner has thought about turning her hobby into a business, but she doesn't want it to become a chore.

"I would need to produce much more than I have now," Spooner said. "Right now, it's fun to do."

Prices depend on the piece. A medium-sized suncatcher might cost around $65 to $85. Nightlights sell for around $20. Vases sell for $40 to $100.

Kristy Keeley of Fargo has purchased several of Spooner's pieces - mostly to give as gifts.

"They were phenomenal. The time that she puts into them and the craftsmanship, it's outstanding. It's just beautiful," Keeley said.

Spooner's sister-in-law, Pam Spooner of Casselton, took up the hobby about three years ago.

So far, she does mostly smaller pieces like Christmas ornaments and beveled snowflakes.

"It is fun to do these little things," Pam Spooner said. "Unfortunately I just don't get a whole lot of time to do it."

To create artwork out of stained glass, the women first find a pattern and number the pieces. They then cut the pattern apart and glue it onto the glass before cutting the glass. They use a grinding machine to smooth the edges. They then wrap copper foil around the glass and solder it.

"It's very relaxing once you get into it," Susan Spooner said.

"It is, but I tend to be too much of a perfectionist and it will take me a long time to do a very small piece," Pam Spooner replied.

"She's getting better, though," her sister-in-law said reassuringly.