Owner & Teacher of Master Classes
My name is Sue Kutno, and I began working with stained glass about 35 years ago. In about 4 years I got lead poisoning and had to stop working with the lead, giving up my business, shows and commissions. I was flipping out! At that time, in the ’80’s, there were no other techniques in glass that a home hobbyist could do besides stained glass. You could do glass blowing, but you had to apprentice at a glass factory forever. There were no hot shops around like there are today and with a growing family and living in suburbia I wasn’t about to go off to learn glass blowing.
Then I heard about a new company called Bullseye Glass in Portland Oregon that was developing a new technique called fusing and slumping. I immediately called them; I lived in N.J. at the time, and bought their book called Glass Fusing-Book I. And now it’s 35 years later. I never looked back.
There was a lot of experimenting at that time, no classes, with Bullseye being my only source of information – Lots of long distance calls (no cell phones)! There were no glass kilns, only sheet glass and not too many colors and not many choices of tools (whatever tools there were for stained glass we used) or design elements like laser cuts, pebbles, stringers and noodles. It was the dark ages! But I hobbled through and believe I was the first in the N.Y. area to do shows and sell my fused glass creations. Most people that were experimenting with fusing were in the northwest area near Bullseye.
Eventually in about 1989 I think, Bullseye came out with frit. I immediately bought every color in 5lb containers and started ‘frit painting’. I don’t know if anyone was seriously frit painting on the west coast, but I concentrated my glass making on ‘painting’ and eventually, a few years later, won The New Glass Review from Corning Museum of Glass for this new technique. Corning has their competition once a year open to all levels of glass artists. The year I entered and won there were 2300 entries. They choose 100 artists every year with new and innovative techniques in glass.
In 1991 my husband Irv and I moved to Sarasota, Fl. to retire….but of course we had to find something to do. We couldn’t just sit around and relax, so we opened a little glass gallery and studio to fill our time. Glass Reflections, a glass gallery in the heart of the art gallery/antique district in Sarasota with my fusing studio, Glasstudio-West in the rear, was born. At that time I had enough room for one cutting table and a small kiln. In no time at all customers, after seeing my fused and slumped art wanted to learn how they could make glass, so I started teaching one on one. Eventually a space two doors down became available and I opened a larger studio where I taught fusing and slumping. Expanding the business, I brought in teachers to instruct stained glass and beadmaking. In 2000 ‘Sarasota School of Glass’ was founded. We had 8 teachers and offered 30 different classes.
A few years later Irv and I bought a building ‘out east’, an up and coming area of Sarasota. Downtown was a very touristy/snow bird area, which meant seasonal business. ‘Out East’ meant year round business — so we moved. Being downtown for 12 years and now moving to ‘rural’ Sarasota made me very nervous, but had proven to be the right decision. We changed our gallery name to ‘International Glass Art Outlet’ and re-opened my studio, now ‘Firelite Glass’ and school, ‘Sarasota School of Glass’.
Four years later we again moved, expanding to larger quarters at Northgate Center and four years after that to Clark Rd. where we now have 3500 sq. ft. of space, sharing it with our sister company, Firelite Forms, which our daughter Jini now owns and runs with her husband Gary. We manufacture slumping molds for the glass fusing industry selling our products worldwide. We are proud to say that we are the largest manufacturer of slumping molds ‘Made in the USA’ with our pouring facility on premises.
Sarasota School of Glass recently has changed direction, enlarging its work space for students in Open Studio and offering Technique Workshops as well as full classes. I have also added a separate schoolroom so that Open Studio students and classroom students can take advantage of the space at the same time. SSG now has a staff of 9 people whereas about 3 years ago it was just me!
What is in the future? Only time will tell. In the meantime our calendar is full, students are returning again and again to learn new techniques and expanding their capabilities. Many are working independently in our ‘Open Studio’ going on to open studios of their own.
Sue Kutno has also written a fusing book called “Everything You Wanted To Know About Fusing and Had No One To Ask”, won the New Glass Review from Corning Museum of Glass and invented SureStik, an adhesive for fusing glass and a medium for powders and frit available in liquid or spray form.
UPDATE 2018 – SSG has expanded again adding another classroom featuring ‘cold work’ classes for our students. A variety of Stained Glass, Mosaics, LampWork, Jewelry and Painting classes round out our curriculum.
Meet Our Instructors!
Stacked Christmas Tree
Butch (Dwight) Martin came to Sarasota from Indiana in 1999. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering, he’s always had a passion for home improvement and attention to detail. His interest in glass began in the 80s when he worked in stained glass. After discovering Sarasota School of Glass a few years ago and taking classes, he began experimenting with Fused Glass and developed the “stacked” Christmas tree design. Butch is also the ‘main man’ when it comes to fusing & slumping your projects; he fires the kilns at SSG.
Fusing & SlumpingJewelry | Wire Wrapping | Painting on Glass
Diane has been fusing glass for the past 8 years. “The simple beauty of fused glass never ceases to amaze me. I cannot wait to wake up every day and create something new and unique out of glass. I love teaching and watching the light bulb illuminate in each student. I continue to grow and learn from students with each class.”
Donna started stained glass in 1976, in NY. In 1995 Donna and her family moved to Sarasota with Glass Crafters from Long Island. Recently retiring from the retail end of the business, she continues creating in her own studio and teaches at SSG. Donna has done custom commissions – including the windows for Trinity Baptist Church in Sun City Center and the windows in Saints Martha’s Catholic School in Sarasota.
Fusing & Slumping
Gail Daines moved to South West Florida 15 years ago from New York. She trained professionally as a chef and owned a catering business for several years before deciding her real love was art.
She owned a custom picture framing business in Corning, New York, working closely with Corning Incorporated, Corning Museum of Glass and the Rockwell Museum of Art before moving to Florida.
She has always been an entrepreneur. Gail has been teaching at Sarasota School of Glass since 2015 and works out of her own glass studio.
Jo Ann Wedge
Jo Ann began her art career as a potter, reaching the height of her career when her line of pottery was picked up by Disney and Sea World. After 30 years of pottery Jo Ann switched to glass jewelry. “Making ‘wearable art’ was easy, fairly quick, and very rewarding producing “one of a kind” jewelry for gifts to others or self.”
Pocket Wall Vase | Kumihimo Japanese Braiding
Karen Pettinelli recently retired from the hectic world of advertising in Philadelphia and moved to Bradenton with her husband Gene. Seeking the good life, Karen is able to spend her time doing arts and crafts. Trained and self-taught, she is an avid beader, blows glass at the Morean Art Center Hot Shop and spends a lot of time at SSG experimenting with fused glass.
Lampwork | PMC – Precious Metal Clay Fusing
Kelly Six is an artist who has been making, building, or concocting something ever since she first discovered that old nails, pallet wood and a will to climb could provide a first hand glance at Nature’s Stained Glass – the interplay between the light, the leaves, and the breeze. It is no wonder that she now works with glass. Nothing captures the dance of light and color like glass art.
“Glass is an obsession with me. I want to understand it, create with it, control it. In my search for knowledge about this fascinating medium, I am an admitted ‘glass groupie’ on a quest for information and learning wherever I can find it.”
Fusing & Slumping
As an artist and biologist, nature and wildlife are the inspirations of some of Liana’s work. She found that she could express her love of nature in an art form – kiln formed and flame worked glass. Liana’s natural curiosity leads her to constantly experiment to see what would happen if. So, she founded the Suncoast Glass Guild in 2000 and opened her own studio, Firebug Designs. “I feel fortunate that I found a way to combine my two passions, nature and glass, into an art form that I can share with others.”
Embossed Painting | Painting Design Elements for Fused Glass
Patricia (Pat) Martin came to Sarasota from Indiana in 1999. Originally from Chicago, she had the privilege of studying at the Art Institute of Chicago. She enjoys interior design and being able to use her creative talents in many ways. Along with her husband, Butch, she took classes at Sarasota School of Glass. She now utilizes the open studio to create jewelry pieces as well as decorative art glass, sometimes using paint to enhance her projects. She also works the SSG’s front desk when needed.
A lifelong artist, Patricia began making mosaics around 2003. Her work can be seen in local group and solo shows, the Baobab Gallery in Bradenton, the Venice Art Center, or on Etsy. She has been teaching mosaics at various venues and is now joining SSG.
Fusing & Slumping
Susan is a retired school business administrator who loves working with her hands. She has many hobbies such as sewing, woodworking, pottery and jewelry making; but her favorite is stained glass which she has been doing for 15+ years. Once she found the Sarasota School of Glass, there was no looking back and she has combined her love of glass with the joy of teaching others about fused glass.
Fusing & Slumping
Originally from the Chicago area, Susan moved to Florida in 2005 and now spends most of the year here. She was Vice President for an IT consulting firm where she traveled all over the world before retiring in 2016. She started her interest in art by growing up in a family of all artists and as an adult by taking many classes over the year at the Sarasota Studio of Glass. She started working at SSG in 2016 and loves teaching our various classes and trying new techniques. She also has a passion for reading especially mystery and historical fiction and cooking and baking.
Let Sarasota School of Glass Bring Our Studio to Your Organization
Engage your organization’s members in this unique and exciting team-building exercise. Susan Kutno, owner of SSG will come to your next meeting and offer an informative lecture and glass demonstration. There will be ways for your members to participate including door prizes and FREE classes.
For more information or to reserve your date, call 941-925-GLAS (4527).