BEAUTIFUL WORK: Stained glass class back open at Colley Complex

Published 3:00 am Saturday, July 28, 2018

Those who have ever wanted to pull their hair out will be able to identify with the frustration of Melonie Sessions.

Her signs of exasperation were evident as she stood with her eyes fixated on the task before her.

“This really makes me want to pull my hair out,” she said.

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Sessions is a member of the stained glass class at the Colley Senior Complex. The stained glass pieces that she had so meticulously cut to exactly fit the pattern she had designed were “not going to fit.”

“I didn’t allow for the caming,” she said with a sigh. “Now, I’ve got to go back to square one.” But she added with a smile, “It’s okay. I can do it.”

For Sessions, more time and effort has to be spent rearranging and more cutting, grinding and polishing, but it will be worth it all when the stained glass window is finished and hanging in her office.

“I’ve learned a lot from having to go back to the starting place,” Sessions said. “I won’t make the same mistakes again. The next piece will be much easier. But I’ll probably never be as proud of another piece as of this one.”

Sessions is one of nine members of the reinstated stained glass class at the Colley Senior Complex. Like most of them, she has taken other classes at the Troy senior center, such as painting and pottery.

And it was an experience in the pottery class that “encouraged” her to try stained glass.

“I’m a perfectionist,” Sessions said with a smile. “But when you are working with a glaze, you never know how it’s going to turn out when it’s fired. Things weren’t turning out the way I expected them to and that was frustrating for me. When you work with stained glass, you have more control over what you do, but that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be like you want it.”

She added laughing, “Then, there’s the hair-pulling frustration of having to do it over, but you can get it right.”

Catherine Jordan, Colley Senior Complex director, said she is excited that the stained glass class is back.

“Suzette Helms was the facilitator for the class for several years but, when she took a break, there was no one to take her place,” Jordan said. “Then, about three months ago, Sherry Key came aboard as the facilitator. When you are working with stained glass, it can be frustrating so, to have a class, we needed a leader and Sherry is a great leader. She has her own studio and she’s a good teacher.”

Carter Sanders said working with stained glass is challenging because it’s more “work.”

“First, you must have a pattern – a design,” he said. “Then you have to cut the glass into rough shapes and the edges have to be ground and polished. Then, you either have to copper foil the edges of each piece or came them.”

Sanders said there a difference between foiling and caming.

The foil is secured along the each edge of each piece of cut glass, the large and the small. Then the foil is soldered with a soldering iron, securing the glass pieces into place.

But….caming is a whole different ballgame, Sessions said.

The lead came has to first be stretched so that it doesn’t stretch later and allow the glass pieces to slip.

“You can’t wrap the came around small pieces or in tight places, so it has to be cut,” she said. “That’s where I got into trouble. I cut the came too short and that left a gap. That’s why I’m back at square one.”

Jordan said, even with the challenges of stained glass art, the interest and excitement among the members is evident.

“They are doing beautiful work,” she said. “The class is open to anyone that has an interest in stained glass and creating pieces of their own.”

The Colley Senior Complex has purchased the tools and materials necessary for creating stained glass art.

The students are responsible for their own glass, however, Jordan said a large amount of glass has been donated, including a stockpile of beveled glass.

“We have a well-supplied stained glass studio, a great facilitator and a ready group of eager students,” Jordan said. “We encourage anyone with an interest in the stained glass class or the pottery and painting classes to visit us and learn more about this and all of our other programs for senior adults.”