Glass art comes from the heart NORTHWEST -- Taneytown * Union Bridge * New Windsor * Uniontown


The happiness Sharon and Rusty Rowland find in their business gives a new meaning to the phrase, "whistle while you work."

But the joy they get from producing the stained-glass items for their New Windsor business is reason enough for them to exchange jokes and jibes among the rising dust and shards.

"This business comes from my heart," said Ms. Rowland, whose art training and skills helped bring the family business, Art in Glass, to life. "Whatever the business is or becomes is because of me and Russ, and what we put into it."

The Rowlands have put so much into their business it's difficult to believe they ever worked outside the art field. But they did.

Mr. Rowland worked for a snack company. Ms. Rowland was a registered nurse.

"When I was a nurse, it was like someone else's business," said Ms. Rowland, who decided to forgo her extensive art training to become a nurse after her father was killed in an industrial accident.

"I didn't have the freedom of owning my own business," she continued. "I was already doing things [stained glass] for people vTC at work, so I said to Russ, 'Why should I keep being a nurse?' "

Mr. Rowland said he felt the same dissatisfaction.

"For Frito Lay [the snack maker], I was working hard, but not seeing any of the benefits," said Mr. Rowland, 37, who had covered the Bowie area for the company. "What I enjoy most about this is that the people enjoy our work."

Art in Glass started in the basement of the home the Rowlands had in Ijamsville eight years ago.

The Rowlands and their three children -- Lindsay, 15, Jason, 12, and Zachary, 5 -- have traveled from one craft show to the next, showing off their crafts and signing up people for their courses on the art.

The shop evolved and expanded into a renovated carriage house behind the New Windsor home the couple bought five years ago. In August, the couple will open for business in Frederick.

"We have found that we don't get much traffic here," Mr. Rowland said of the current shop, nestled in the back yard of the couple's Church Street home.

"In Frederick, we are going to concentrate mainly on retail and wholesale work and supplies," Ms. Rowland said. "We'll teach classes in both places."

The sun has shone through many a Rowland stained-glass product, from palm-sized hanging moons to colorful, elaborate panels in residential entrances. Most of their work comes through word-of-mouth publicity or the craft shows they attend during the spring and fall months.

Publicity has garnered the couple at least two jobs in an Olney town house development. The residents of the end units need something for the octagonal-shaped spaces in their bathrooms, Ms. Rowland said.

Mr. Rowland credits his wife with designing the crafts, which begin as ideas and progress to drawings on graph paper. Mr Rowland is the construction end of the two-person crew.

"She can pick out the colors and know which ones should go together," said Mr. Rowland. "I am a person who needs to see it, but she can see these things in her mind."

Ms. Roland said she enjoys the planning stages, but it is the final product that gives her and her husband the most pleasure.

"We get a lot of satisfaction from producing stained-glass pieces," she said. "It's almost like we thrive on the reaction we get to our work."

"You get so many customers who know you can do what they want," Mr. Rowland said. "They come to you with their ideas, and when you come out with the finished product and it is just what they had in mind, it is very gratifying."

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