Dixie Armfield-Rogerson spent 30 years in retail management. It was a stressful career that involved moving companies and locations several times.
Halfway through, she sought something that would relieve her stress. She took a stained glass class.
“It was kind of on a whim, at Olympic College,” she said of the class. “But I loved it.”
So, when time allowed, she took more glass classes, including a fused glass class. But she continued to go to work every day. That was until six years ago.
“I had bad burnout,” she said. “I was just walking into Claywerks to buy a ceramic mold for my glass work when (owner) Angela (Perryman) and I started talking. The next thing I knew I was renting space from her to open a (glass art) shop.”
After five years of working there, Armfield-Rogerson has recently relocated to 2604 Burwell, a building know as the Skookum building. With much more space, Armfield-Rogerson makes custom stained glass and fuse glass art for customers. She also teaches classes, repairs stained glass and art glass and sells supplies to others who work in glass art.
Her new location has a student section where classes are held, a professional area where she works and a room where she has two kilns where glass is fired.
“I have all the tools and supplies that my students need right here,” she said. “And there’s lots of room for us to work.”
Most students begin with fused glass because it’s a bit more simple.
“With fused glass, you cut the glass, build a design and put it in the kiln,” she said. “Stained glass has more steps. You have to cut glass and copper foil and then solder. You have to have a lot of patience.”
Stained glass can take up to six weeks, working a couple times a week, to finish a project, she said, whereas with fused glass, projects can be done in one evening, fired and then picked up a couple of days later. Fused glass is more contemporary and stained glass is considered more old-fashioned, she added.
Although projects differ depending on their size and complexity, Armfiled-Rogerson said anyone can do glass art.
“I hear it all the time,” she said. “People say they want to take a class, but they don’t have any artistic talent. You just have to take it step-by-step.”
She tells her students to just “breathe,” and that their first piece won’t be perfect.
“I’m a real patient teacher,” she said. “Many times students get into what they’re doing and they say ‘wow, it’s been two hours. That went fast.’”
That’s how it was for Effie Moody of Silverdale.
Moody, who brought a stained glass window to Armfield-Rogerson for repair, decided to do a project herself. She made a red and orange colored-rose stained glass window that now hangs in her house. That was a few years ago. Now she’s making fused glass fish.
“I love coming to the classes,” she said. “We really have fun and we all become friends.”
When not teaching, Armfield-Rogerson is creating. Recently she’s been creating a trio of fused glass crows that will soon be wall art. During the summer, she concentrated on garden art, including teacups on wrought iron stakes, and flowers in stained glass to hang in the garden. Glass designs with Koi fish were big this summer as were dragonflies.
She also is in the middle of repairing an antique lead glass window and two tiffany-style art deco glass lamps - one with a moon and one with a fan-shaped glass feature.
While some might question her decision to locate at the corner of Burwell and Callow, Armfield-Rogerson is happy with her new location.
“I like being down here,” she said of the Charleston District. “Other antique and art businesses are going in around here and that’s very exciting.”
She’s renting from a friend who owns the building and there’s plenty of parking behind her shop for her customers and students.
When she’s not working, Armfield-Rogerson spends time with her husband who works for the railroad. They live in the Tracyton area with their corgi, Colby. They have four children and three grand-children.
As for people calling her an artist, she’s not sure.
“I have a hard time calling myself an artist,” she said. “I wasn’t really ever artistic. I wanted to be a fashion designer but then decided to go into retail management. I’ve always been crafty, and made my own clothes.
“I guess we all have an artist within us. We just have to find the right thing to bring it out.”
Find out more by calling 360-627-9961, or go to www.easternwindglass.com. You can email her at email@example.com.
Ladies’ night classes are every Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. and cost $20 for all supplies. Bring a dish to share and enjoy the potluck.
Store hours are Wednesday through Friday: 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday: 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday: 12 a.m. to 5 p.m.