Despite the alluring properties of open flames, only glass, custom masonry, and middle-school diaries benefit from being thrust into them. Give your jewelry box new flare with today's Groupon: for $20, you get a 90-minute glass-fusing workshop and two pendants to make and take home at The Glass Workbench in Saint Charles (a $40 value; materials included). This Groupon is good for the Two Fused Pendants Using Decals & Dichroic Slide class, which is offered Tuesday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on July 12 and 26, and Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on July 9, 23, and 30.
The instructors at The Glass Workbench lean on more than 25 years of experience teaching and forging glass artisans, helping students of all skill sets discover new art forms. During the workshop, up to 15 crystal creators graduate through the basic steps of glass fusion. The lesson begins when new glassmakers select from more than 500 colors of glass, including those from the primary, secondary, and completely invisible spokes of the color wheel. Afterward, each glassmaker designs and creates an iridescent dichroic pendant, known for its color-shifting, neck-accentuating properties, and another pendant with a decorative, sparkly decal. The chosen hues of crystallized sand are then submitted to repeated firings, quenching the lust for boutique jewelry and letting employees go. Pendants must cure overnight at The Glass Workbench before they are ready to go home within the next two days.
Jean Dryden adopted The Glass Workbench from parents and founders Glen and Joanne Bishop. Bishop oversees a building recorded in the National Register of Historic Places, as well as a team of glass experts with several years of collective experience and no fewer than 20 secret crock-pot recipes among them.
The Glass Workbench
The Glass Workbench—a stained-glass and glass-making specialty store—began as a family-owned enterprise in 1975. Back then, owners Glen and Joanne Bishop chose an old-style building on South Main Street to create their shrine to the age-old art of glassmaking. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the building's 2-foot-thick Burlington limestone walls enclose the shop's inventory of supplies and books about glass arts. They also house mosaic stained-glass artworks by Julie Bishop Day, Glen and Joanne's daughter, who developed the stepping-stone technique for glass decoration. Local crafters take advantage of glassmaking workshops and admire the work of the staff's resident artisans, whose custom stained-glass pieces portray nature imagery and legendary moments in history such as when Ben Franklin invented Windex.