Whoever said love can shatter like glass hasn’t visited Escondido’s Stone & Glass where love and glass mix quite nicely, thank you.
Glass art meets form and function in a industrial section of town, Simpson Way, where James Stone plies his craft for commissions large and small, the cause of ocean conservation, and home decor while also holding workshops, events and studio tours.
“I’m the oldest working glass artist in San Diego County,” the robust Stone, 65, said between guiding workshop participants through the glassblowing process on Feb. 13, the day before d’uh, you know when, at his studio behind a well-displayed showroom. “Everybody else has retired.”
Stone continued: “Were making a tumbler right now for Valentine’s Day. This is our open house celebrating our one-year anniversary here,” adding as he gulped down a bottle of water, “Doing this is like being a professional athlete,” meaning glass blowing is strenuous art work.
Between the 2,350-degree flames three feet away, and the need to carefully spin and manipulate heavy objects, who can doubt that.
Stone lives with wife Carol Rogers in historic Old Escondido, a place he can walk to from the industrial studio. They are a husband-and-wife partnership in the truest sense as she manages the business end of things while he takes care of creative.
“Mostly I do commission work like L’Auberge Hotel in Del Mar,” Stone said. “Last year I did four major projects at Sharp Hospital, two projects at the Catamaran (Resort Hotel and Spa) new restaurant Oceana (Coastal Kitchen), Pacific Beach.”
Stone added: “We teach classes. The single biggest reason is to give people more appreciation of art glass. Once you sit on the bench, you have a newfound understanding of what it takes to make a piece.”
Stone also does custom work for individuals and stages glass art shows at galleries. He had a shop set up at Bernardo Winery for 15 years. He decided he wanted to move to a space of his own about 10 years into that arrangement.
Easier said than done however as setting up a glassblowing facility takes an unique mixture of safety first features and space considering the heat of the process and specialty machinery necessary to finish projects.
Carol Rogers picked up the story. “We looked at a lot of locations in the last five years,” she said. “we looked at Liberty Station and Lawrence Welk Village. We realized that because we were in a mixed media, it was the perfect blend for M-1 (light industrial) zoning.
“We looked and looked and looked,” Rogers continued. “This place came up for rent a year ago. Within a week of it being open, we were in here. Fortunately, we had a leasing agent who had blown glass and he spoke with the landlord, who has been great with us.”
Valentine’s Day tale
Being the day before Valentine’s Day, Rogers shared the story behind her fateful meeting with Stone, Nov. 29, 2002, the day after Thanksgiving.
“We were at an art show at Bates Nut Farm,” Rogers said. “I was visiting from Whittier and with my mom and my cousin. It started to rain, so we ducked into what turned out to beJames’ booth. I snuck back a little later to buy something for my mom and filled out some paperwork to buy the piece.
“James called me a few weeks later,” Rogers continued, “and asked if I would like to come back from Whittier to blow some glass. I guess that was his move, and it worked.”
Rogers had a high-powered career of her own. She was a manufacturing manager for medical devices. Her talents were so in demand that she worked for a company that allowed her to live at Whittier, yet commute by plane weekly to its Rocklin, near Sacramento, plant.”
Commuting like that got old and the embers of love blew hot. rogers married Stone, then retired from her medical device management taking over the business part of Stone’s passion.
Together, they have created a vibrant, and unique, art and education experience, not to mention classy and useful glass-blown objects that cover a gamut of uses; glasses and bowls, sculptures and home objects, even furniture like benches and chairs.
They’ve also created a welcoming space. “Carol and I have been friends for over 15 years,” said Mayra Gonzalez, a custom printer who helped with the day-before-Valentine’s and one-year anniversary open house, bringing along her 9-year-old daughter Sofia and family dog. “This is my mini-vacation away from L.A.”
Gonzalez added: “They have such really good energy here. Of course, you have to be careful because it’s glass, but it’s cool. Most of the stuff is art that you can use.”
Want to learn more about Stone & Glass? For more, visit http://stoneandglass.com/gallery/.