Let your creative side shine

Teri McClure (center) explains the basics of stained glass designs to attendees at the Goodfellow Arts and Crafts Center’s Fabulous First-Monday Art Extravaganza April 6. Ms. McClure, who has been working at the Arts and Crafts Center since 1989, learned the art of stained glass design in 1987. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anne Gathua)

Teri McClure (center) explains the basics of stained glass designs to attendees at the Goodfellow Arts and Crafts Center’s Fabulous First-Monday Art Extravaganza April 6. Ms. McClure, who has been working at the Arts and Crafts Center since 1989, learned the art of stained glass design in 1987. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anne Gathua)

Teri McClure creates the preliminary designs for her stained glass design April 6. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anne Gathua)

Teri McClure creates the preliminary designs for her stained glass design April 6. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anne Gathua)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- She briefly explains what stained glass is then gives each of her students a design, a piece of glass, a felt pen, a glass cutter, breaking pliers and starts to keenly explain the process of making stained glass. Her student's eyes look directly at her eager to hear what she has to say. In great detail she goes through each process slowly stopping momentarily to answer any questions her students might have. This is how Teri McClure, who has been working at the Arts and Craft Center since 1989, starts her class.

Ms. McClure said teaching people how to make stained glass gives them a renewed appreciation of the art.

"Most people tell me they didn't know it was that hard to make but they really enjoy it," said Ms. McClure. "Learning what goes into it gives them a new perspective and they feel good when they learn the skill. It's a valuable and rewarding experience."

The center is a place that gives people an opportunity to express themselves by using their creativity to design art and craft pieces.

Ms. McClure said the art of making stained glass has been around for centuries. Originally, it was almost exclusively used on church windows.

"My specialty is the copper foil technique, which was perfected by Louis Comfort Tiffany," said Ms. McClure. "This technique allows me to make intricate designs."

Ms. McClure learned the art of making stained glass when she took a class in 1987 at the Chicken Farm Art Center in San Angelo.

"I wanted to make stained glass lids for some woodwork pieces that I was working on," said Ms. McClure. "I took the class and loved it."

The basic process for the copper foil technique begins by determining the design you want to make. You then select the texture and color of glass you want to use, lay the glass on a light box and trace your design on the glass, score over the design using a glass cutter and break out the design pieces using breaking pliers. After that you use the grinder to perfect the design shapes, wrap the edges of each piece with copper foil then finally you solder the pieces together according to your design, said Ms. McClure.

For Ms. McClure, the way stained glass captures light is what makes it unique.

"It's beautiful and it sparkles," she added.

Ms. McClure said she loves the art of stained glass because it does not require a lot of details.

"You just relax, draw and cut," she said. "There's nothing as good as finishing a piece and watching the light come through it. It's so peaceful. I just love it."

Peggy Farnsworth, the arts and crafts manager, said the center offers a variety of other things to do including pottery, mould-cast ceramics, woodworking, automotive repair and cake decorating. They also sell art supplies and provide adequate space for people who want to work on personal projects.

"It's a place where you can meet people, make friends, socialize and have a good time," said Ms. Farnsworth. "Get out of your rooms and get off the computer. Come and do something creative. Kids are welcome and they always have a blast."

Ms. McClure encourages people to visit the center and try out what they have to offer. "It's very relaxing and we have very good music," she said. "You can wear whatever you want to wear and make great gifts for friends and family."

Ms. McClure said most people think they are not artistic enough and that keeps them away from the center.

"Anyone can do it," said Ms. McClure. "You do not have to be artistic and we are always here to help. Don't let the designs on display scare you. We will teach you the simplest to the more complex methods. Open up that part of your brain. It makes you a better person and it helps you chill out."

Ms. Farnsworth said the center, which was recently renovated, was built for the Goodfellow Air Force Base personnel to express themselves creatively with no rules.

"Come and enjoy it," she said. "Use it for what it's meant for. Relax, enjoy and relieve stress."

For more information contact the Arts and Craft center at 654-3237.