Peter McGrain Workshop

May 27-31, 2013, in his Bingen Washington studio!

Peter McGrain Workshop

I completed Peter's stained glass workshop May 27-31, 2013, in his Bingen Washington studio! In addition to learning his VITRI-FUSÂILLE™ process, we also learned about age old traditional glass staining and painting techniques.

Show Piece

Show Piece, 7″ x 10″

Here is my show piece. Started on Monday, May 25, and finished that Friday. I had to come up with the initial design Monday morning, and after lunch break the glass so it could be fused in the kiln that night. In the days that followed, any work I applied got fused into it overnight night. It was fired the last time Friday evening. I picked it up Saturday AM before going back to Portland.

Each time we did anything, Peter showed us on our piece what he'd do and how, and then the piece got wiped off and you had to do it yourself! It's an insane process.

This started with about 60 pcs of Spectrum transparent glass (System 96) of the colors you see coming though. The pieces were fused onto a single clear piece of System 96 the first night of the workshop. Tracing lines, highlights and shading were created by applying and selectively removing matt in the days that followed. Of course I made mistakes, and some were recoverable the next day, but I lost control of it and couldn't fix it the way I wanted to on the last day.

Sometimes I look at it and just laugh out loud. Hard to believe I made it and that it turned out so well. Peter helped! It's crude, but original, and somehow that makes it art.

The Making of Glass Lady

The Drawing (cartoon), breaking the glass for the color areas, assembling pieces on top of a clear base plate of glass, close up of 'drop-ins', the fused piece, Glass Lady with tracing lines only (covering up most of the mechanics).

breaking the glass!
assembling the pcs
Close Up of 'Drop Ins'
pcs fused together


  • Notice the Drop ins for eyes and lips and one eyebrowplaced over the other pieces of glass.
  • The last image is before shading and matting.
  • Note that the yellow half of the face was different from the hair glass, which 'struck' (fired) orange. (I knew that would happen beforehand as per Peter.)
  • The final result, after shading and matting, is shown at top of page.

Tracing, Masking, and Shading (PEAR)

Here is one "formula" project from my 5-day intensive workshop with Peter McGrain (last week in May). We all had to make a pear, which was used to practice various techniques before we applied same to our "show piece". Peter drew the pear on paper and we took it from there. It consists of 8 or more pcs of colored glass that got fused together in the first step, and then painted on, etc, to produce this result. We started on the pears first thing Tuesday AM and they were fired in a small electric (or gas) kiln and they were ready for late afternoon work.

Pear Fused and Traced, before shading and matting

in between...

formula project, 5.5″ x 7″

Staining Glass

As part of the ARTISTIC TRADITIONAL GLASS PAINTING aspect of the workshop, we learned to apply stains to clear glass. So you see here a piece that started out with just the lines lines (traced) onto clear glass, and then various colors stained on the back in successive firings. Then shadings were applied to the front in the form of a matt that is brushed on for shading and/or manipulated for highlighting in other firings. Our pieces underwent several firings per day (fast small gas kilns) as we worked on them.

Staining Glass formula project (detail), 7″ x 5.5″

The Workshop Overall

It was a blast. I was exhausted each day, as it was pretty non-stop. We had a slide show every day over lunch.. history, survey, other students work, stories, etc. Fun workshop! Thursday evening we had pizza and played music for a dozen joiners. Peter plays accordion, I was on Tuba, and Susie Sinclair played fiddle. It's a very happy place to be.

A Footnote

On July 3, 2013 I went in on a tour of the Spectrum glass foundry in Woodinville, WA. No picture taking allowed, but you can see the tour of the foundry on their website. You are taken into the inferno on the tour! [Virtual Tour]


  • Peter McGrain on Oregon Art Beat in 2005, with Peter explaining his VITRI-FUSÂILLE process... [NO LONGER AVAILABLE?] Anyone know why?
  • Peter McGrain Accepts the 2014 Joseph Barnes Lifetime Achievement Award on [YouTube] 13½ fun minutes, including jokes and a sing-a-long.
  • Piérre the Accordion Playin' Chump... er, Chimp!! 17″x20″, is a favorite of mine, one of six Peter did on commission for a glass manufacturer. Shows how far he has advanced his design and technique. [LINK]
  • Reader anove shows the incredible lighting (illumination) seen in his work. I think this won a Corning Glass institute award. I didn't realize till recently that this references a Vincent Van Gogh painting, The Novel Reader!
  • Peter's Workshops: [LINK]
  • Peter's Gallery on [Facebook].
  • Peter's Student Work Gallery — Check out the Robin. Need to say anything more? [LINK]
  • System 96 Glass (compatible product line): [LINK]