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Letter to the Editor re: Interview with Lani McGregor, Part 1

In 1977, my husband, Bill Ollinger, and I bought The Glass Depot in San Rafael, CA from Bill and Judy Cummings.  The Cummings were moving their studio to North Adams, MA.

The Glass Depot was a retail operation for stained glass supplies started by Judy Cummings. In a way I had a similar learning curve to the Bullseye guys. I knew a lot about stained glass, but squat about retail. I later found, by the way, that it was easier to hire employees who knew about retail and train them in the glass world than vice versa.

In 1975, before we bought the Glass Depot, Bill and I went to the Stained Glass Association (SGAA) annual conference in Tahoe. There we met these three crazy guys who were showing and selling glass from their hotel room. I bought several sheets. There were adventurous color combos. The sheets were shaped like tongues. There was one solid orange color that we called "Dead Carrot". Somehow that got transmogrified to "Dead Parrot". I think I still have some pieces of those original sheets. Can't bear to part with them as they are historic.

Later, at the 1979 SGAA conference in Seattle, Bill and I won a crate of Bullseye Glass at a dancing contest! Bill is an energetic dancer and I think the energy won over the judges (Boyce was one). We later cashed in on that crate and started selling Bullseye at the Glass Depot. At first Bullseye Glass was really hard to cut with any accuracy, but the colors and textures were stunning. Over the years the sheets got thinner and more cuttable. The shape of the sheets squared out. They finally had a viable product.

I, like most Bullseye customers, wasn't interested in fusing either. I came out of stained glass and felt there was an invisible line between stained glass and what was then just hot glass. For many years I didn't join the Glass Art Society (GAS) because it was for hot glass artists. Finally I went to my first GAS conference. I think it was in 1979. I found it fascinating., but still mostly blown glass.

Things changed dramatically when in 1986, I took a class at Pilchuck from Sydney Cash called "Metaphysical Glass Forming". I was ready to explore new ideas in glass. This class took me "Out of the Window" into three-dimensional work, using heat.

We liquidated the Glass Depot in 1988. I, like Ray, Boyce and Dan, wanted to be an artist, not a retailer. ;Ever since then I have just been pursuing my own muse in three-dimensional work and glass tiles. Most, but not all, of the glass I use is now recycled. I have a good connection with sources of plate glass powder and recycled bottle powder. See my website, www.lightandglass.us, for my work of the 21st century.

Many thanks to Lani for the interview. What she and Dan have done with that company is AWESOME.

[Penelope Comfort Starr]