Viewing life through multicolored glass

A beautiful piece done in stained glass on display in the window of the Cracked Glass shop in Champaign, IL on March 28, 2016.

By Masaki Sugimoto

An array of color dangles from the ceiling at Cracked Glass Art Glass Studio in Champaign. Flecks of tinted light scatter on the floor, displaying the art of the stained and fused glass.

“We have probably about forty artists’ work in the gallery here … student stained glasswork, student fusing work and lots of other artists’ too,” said co-owner Sharon Haworth, gazing at the spectacle of brightly colored glass in her shop.

Taking on a new challenge was just what Haworth and co-owner Tracy Satterthwaite were looking for when they bought the glass shop in 2014.

“Both of us were looking for something new in our lives, so we took it on,” Haworth said.

When the two of them met at church in the 1990s, they never could have dreamed that owning a glass studio would be in their futures. Haworth, who worked in rehabilitation counseling before working from home for a while, had never even done glass art up until three years ago.

Satterthwaite, conversely, was quite familiar with glass art, having done it for about 30 years. Before becoming a science teacher at Urbana High School, she worked for the store Cracked Glass, which was then Glass FX.

“I worked there full time, and when I wasn’t working there full time, I would come in and help with holiday seasons or teaching classes,” Satterthwaite said.

Glass FX is a glass business that has been in the area for around 42 years. In the past, the business did all the retail, classes and commercial glasswork. When the owner decided he wanted to focus more on the commercial side, he put half the business up for sale.

“I continued a relationship with (Glass FX) for thirty years … so when it came up for sale, I was crazy and decided to buy it and run it,” Satterthwaite said.

Though Glass FX is still open next door for bigger commercial installations, Haworth and Satterthwaite are continuing more with the retail and teaching aspects in glasswork.

“The classes and supplies are probably the biggest part of our business,” Satterthwaite said.

This love of teaching and getting people excited about working with glass stems from Satterthwaite’s own love of glass.

Satterthwaite, a native of Urbana, dabbled in art forms like fabric art and sculpture, among other things; however, she found herself returning to the colorful world of glass each time.

“Once I got bitten by the bug, I haven’t been able to get away from it,” Satterthwaite said.

Now she, along with Haworth, loves to get others eager about all the potential glass has artistically.

Each year, they host five six-week classes ranging from beginner level to advanced. The classes feature various methods of glasswork — fusing and stained glass using multiple methods, including the copper-foil method, and soldering together pieces of broken glass using copper foil to create a mosaic.

Haworth and Satterthwaite teach the classes, along with other artists and past students in the area.

“Our fusing teacher actually took the class here,” Haworth said. “She took it three or four times and then she was going so well with it; we decided it was time for her to teach it. The guy who’s teaching stained glass right now is a local artist.”

One of these students, Natalie Hummel, senior at University High School, is excited about continuing the owners’ enthusiasm. Hummel became an intern almost two years ago after taking classes and falling in love with it.

“My dad had taken classes when the establishment was under different ownership a few years ago, and then he wanted to start up again, so he got me classes for my birthday,” Hummel said.

Though she learned under several teachers at Cracked Glass, she said she’s learned the most from Satterthwaite and Haworth during her internship and hopes to continue the hobby throughout her college years and beyond.

“One of the things that I ask colleges is, ‘Do you have places to do stained glass?’” Hummel said with a laugh.

Hummel is just one example of the many students Haworth and Satterthwaite have gotten excited about glasswork. According to them, getting people involved in the art form is worth every bit of hard work it takes to run a business, and they are excited for the future.

“I love teaching people … seeing the sparkle in their eye when they get it — they’re getting bitten by the bug too, and that’s neat to see,” Satterthwaite said.

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