Questions and Answers with Mary Datwyler

Featured Artists

Mary Datwyler is the owner and primary designer of Sunflower Glassworks, Delphi's latest Elite Dealer. She has over 20 years experience in art glass, seven of which has been running her full-service glass shop. Her work has been taken to six continents (anyone headed for Antarctica?) and has been featured in print and cable TV. Recently, staff at Delphi Glass sat down with her to ask the artist a few questions about her work and her inspiration.

How did you get involved in art glass? As a child my mother "shopped" religion so I was exposed to many styles of stained glass (and philosophies) in all of the various buildings I was in for religious training. That's where it began. I took my first class nearly 20 years ago and after working in glass for 12 years, I finally was brave enough to sell my first piece to the public. With that successfully in hand, I soon was receiving commission orders. I worked full time at a "real job" and worked my "glass shop" early morning and late into the evening in the garage. When my then home-based commission business outgrew it's garage space, it was time to look for commercial space and open the retail shop to complement my commission work which would finally give me space to teach as well. The rest, as they say, is history.

What was your favorite project or moment? There have been so many...but probably standing in a church sanctuary the first time I finished the installation of my first church full of windows and realizing, as the light through the bevels was casting prisms all over everything that I was responsible for these beautiful windows and that the windows would be the backdrop through peoples lives - baptisms, weddings, funerals. That was powerful.

You mentioned that your studio was featured on HGTV. Can you tell us a little more about that? HGTV selected me for a spot on the show That's Clever! where I incorporated fused glass into a stained glass piece. It was a lot of fun to shoot the show, it's crazy and a little wacky in its presentation but a lot of fun. In preparation for the show, I had to make the same panel ahead of time in seven different stages to be used during the shoot. It was a little surreal to finally see the program air on national TV. Of course, I had to visit with one of my clients to see the show airing because when I started Sunflower Glassworks my husband and I agreed that TV had to go - we've been TV free ever since.

You teach a number of classes at your store, as well as evening classes at the University of New Mexico. What do you like best about teaching art glass? I like seeing people light up when they realize that they are responsible for the construction of a piece, whether it's stained glass or fused glass. Most of my new students are quick to say "it's something I've always wanted to do" or " wow, I did that". I also like teaching an entertaining class - small enough that everyone gets to know everyone else, and to teach it in a way that people remember the experience down the road.

What are some things that inspire you? I am largely inspired by the light, landscape, colors and culture of New Mexico. Also by the antics of my three dachshunds Aeden, Kiernan and Connor.

Do you have a favorite quote? I have two - and both seem to apply to glass. First, "Expect the unexpected". Second, "I love my husband, my dogs and glass...and not always in that order."

Mary Datwyler is owner and founder of Sunflower Glassworks in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Visit www.SunflowerGlassworks.com or Facebook Sunflower Glassworks.

Sunflower Glassworks is a Delphi Elite Dealer. Find exclusive Store Coupons on the dealer listing at DelphiGlass.com.

2 comments
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julie h.  •  September 21, 2010
I use copper wire which you can tin with solder and then form into your design. Patina can then be applied and will match the rest of the piece.
Nancy D.  •  September 20, 2010
I have a technique question - I am doing a piece with bower birds & I want to add wire which would sit on top of the glass to look like a nest - what type of wire should I use so that i can tin it & then patina black? thanks for any suggestions.
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Meet the Delphi Bloggers - Experienced, Knowledgeable Associates who Love the Glass Art The people who write Delphi's blog, work in our store or answer our Project Helpline are artists in their own right. When you shop from Delphi you get experienced staff can help you select glass for projects, find the tools that are right for your budget and help you get started in a new art. That's why we're here, and why Delphi has been able to successfully help people around the world be creative since 1972. That's the Delphi difference! Delphi was founded in 1972 on the belief that making art glass projects should be enjoyable and rewarding for everyone, from beginner crafters to professional artists. We pride ourselves on customer service and expert knowledge about the crafts our customers enjoy. With 40 years of experience and retail, wholesale and educational divisions, Delphi is dedicated to our customer's satisfaction. Delphi is located in Lansing, MI. Photo: Leslie Sunderlin, Customer Service Lead, Glass Fuser