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Hobbyist shares world of stained glass

Barb Martin demonstrates cutting glass. In order for students to complete their projects, the class meets once a week for three weeks. Each lesson is two-and-a-half hours long. (Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)

Barb Martin doesn’t sell her stained glass artwork.  She doesn’t have a studio, instead commandeering her husband’s shop.  She just does it for fun.  And Martin is happy to teach others her stained glass techniques – just as her mother did before her.  “My mother used to teach stained glass in Arizona in the winters,” explained Martin, who retired from Mahube-Otwa Head Start in 2013.  Martin’s community education class, “Discovering Stained Glass,” was first offered last year. The class has taken off like wildfire.  Although she brings some 30 years of experience to the craft, Martin says, “I’m no expert at stained glass. I’m just willing to share what I know with others.”  

Students – both men and women – create a piece to display or give as a special gift.  Stained glass projects run the gamut from sun catchers to night lights to picture frames.  Martin provides simple patterns for beginners.  She also shares her equipment: glass cutters, pliers, light box, grinders and soldering irons.  Choosing the color and texture of the glass is the most creative part, she said.  The cost of materials is included in the course fee.  Martin encourages other hobbyists to share their talents.  

“That’s what community education is all about. It’s sharing what you know. You don’t have to be an expert,” she said.  Jill Dickinson, Park Rapids Community Education director, agrees.  “Offering a class is fun for the instructor as well as the student,” Dickinson said. “This is a great way to share your hobby with others while making a little money. Barb is right, you do not need to be an expert.  Offering a community ed class is like sitting around the table with friends.”