Studio tour

tips-storage-fritOne problem with being addicted to creating glass art is that it’s not exactly a compact hobby. Coldworking equipment (grinders, laps, rociprolaps, saws, etc) take up considerable space and create a lot of mess, kilns also require some space, and you need somewhere to store extra sheet and frit glass, molds, mold-making materials and supplies, kiln furniture, tubs of abrasive and polishing media, grinder belts, and so on and so on and so on.

And that’s just the “messy” stuff, in my case, the stuff that goes in my garage. I promised myself I’d only use HALF the garage and the car could keep the other half, but lately the glass has established squatter’s rights on the automotive side and I think I’m about to have a nice big coldworking and firing shop with a car parked in the driveway. I’d show you a picture of my setup out there–it’s actually quite usable–but it’s embarrassingly messy right now.

My working studio is inside the house, and it’s taken me about three years to get it the way I want it. It’s not large, and I still have stuff to do (like fix the lighting and add some sample racks), but it’s extremely functional for what I enjoy doing.

SheetglassstorageThe big problem with glass is that it’s heavy, fragile and potentially dangerous. It’s also bulky, and once you cut it you wind up with a lot of perfectly good scrap that needs to be sorted and saved (unless you’re a zillionaire and don’t care if you throw out hundreds of dollars worth of perfectly good glass).

I also need to be able to see it so I (a) know I have it and don’t waste money on duplicates and (b) can see it when I’m picking out a color or texture and mulling over combinations.

So over the years I’ve developed a storage system that works for me. I keep full sheets (which in Bullseyespeak means sheets about 20×35 to 24X72) of clear and neutral-colored glasses in racks in the garage. I don’t need to see the colors so I used the cheapest wood bins I can find.

I cut the colored sheets in half and store them in the studio, in a clear acrylic bin with dividers that the local TAP Plastics made for me.

I’ve got carpet on the bottom of each compartment to cushion the glass and make it easy to slide, and the fact that they’re clear makes it both safer (if you’ve ever reached into a wooden bin and been surprised by a sharp scrap of glass you’ll know what I mean) and easier to see.

StudioStorageCabinetsI have a limited space for full sheets inside, generally whatever I need for the project I’m working on right now. I put 8×10 sheets into acrylic magazine cases, organized by color. Small scrap (usually less than 3×3) is also organized by color in small acrylic drawers that rest on the sheet bin.

Larger scraps of clear, black and white are stored in see-through rubbermaid bins (I think they’re originally sheet cake bins) on a shelf. The same shelving system also holds the essentials (tunes), my project and class notes, drawing papers, and BE sample books. It’s a LOT in a relatively small area, about 48″ x 24″ X 90.”

I keep larger colored scrap and leftover glass strips in bigger acrylic drawers on top of base cabinets–they’ll hold up to an 8×10 sheet if I need them to, also divided by color.
The base cabinets also hold my portable photo studio, clays, metals and other supplies and tools.

StudioCuttingAreaI cut glass in the third corner of the room, and that’s where I also store templates, drawings and patterns for past projects that I might want to revive sometime.

The cutting table also holds stringer and some rod (which isn’t ideal and I’m trying to figure out a way to mount tubes of stringer on the wall). The cabinets above the cutting table hold chemicals and more delicate equipment, such as scales and circle cutters.

I stick casting billet samples, which I don’t need very often, on top of the cabinets.
I got really really tired of storing frit in those cabinets. They were stacked on top of each other, which meant I had to move a lot of jars around to find the ones I wanted. I therefore tended to drag 20 or 30 jars onto my worktable, leaving me no room to work and making cleanup a pain.

Worse, having all those jars on the table increased the possibility that I’d accidentally contaminate one color with another (which ruins an $80 jar of frit). So I hunted around for several months until I found a better solution.

StudioWorkAreaI bought 2 media racks, used by video production studios. They’re really shallow (essential in a small studio), hug the wall and because they’re sized for CDs which are about the same dimensions as a couple jars of frit, they are ideal for frit storage.

They’re also very strong. They hold 1- and 5-lb jars of frit. I keep the larger (40lb) containers of frit, primarily clear/white, out in the garage.

Now I can sit at the drafting table and easily reach any tips-storage-frit-featurecolor I want, use it and put it back–it’s dramatically reduced clutter and cleanup time. I have a cheap little rolling cart that holds bigger pieces of black, clear and white scrap.

I put a couple of pieces of scrap granite tile on top and they hold my brushes, dental and clay tools, and pencils/pens. A small pegboard holds all the other tools, masks, etc., that I need.

And that’s pretty much the whole studio. It ain’t grand, but it’s home.



  1. Lindan March 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the organizational tips! I am returning to stained glass after an 11 year hiatus — and have moved five times during that hiatus, all the while lugging boxes and boxes of stained glass! Snap crackle pop! : (

    I am now in a position to have my glasswork room set up and am hiring someone to make shelves for me. This is a great example for him to follow!! Thanks so much!!

  2. Cynthia July 12, 2011 at 11:51 am - Reply

    Good point–you don’t need fancy metal shelves to do this. I got the media shelves because they were there and I wanted adjustable heights in case I got, I dunno, larger jars or something. But in the seven years or so that they’ve been up there I haven’t adjusted them even once. Static wooden shelves would have worked just as well.

    Wood would also allow you to put stops on the end of each shelf. My one complaint about these is that you can overstuff the shelves with frit jars and knock off the end jars. (And it might not be a bad idea to put a front lip of the shelves, too–I have guestcats right now who wander into the studio and pull down frit jars for fun…)

  3. chaniarts July 11, 2011 at 9:00 am - Reply

    i build something similar to this to hold video tapes for my wife’s video office using just 2x4s. they wouldn’t be large enough for the 5lb bottles, but are just perfect for the 1lb bottles. i suppose using 2x6s you could make a shelf or two for the larger ones.

  4. Cynthia July 10, 2011 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    Hi, Kathy;

    It’s been a long time since I got them, but I believe they’re Hubbell Omni media wall racks. I got mine from a production studio that was remodeling and needed to get rid of a dozen, so I didn’t pay much.

    I went looking for them online when you asked and, now that I’ve seen the price, wish I’d gotten the whole dozen. Wow.

    They are really nice racks, though. 😉

  5. Kathy Kollenburn July 9, 2011 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Hi Cynthia,
    do you recall where you purchased your media wall racks you are using for your frit? My frit is getting the best of me and I need to find a storage solution that works. I like the looks of what you have and have tried to find something similar, but they mostly seem to be longer than they are tall. Thanks!

  6. Beth March 13, 2010 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the great ideas. I have been working with glass for around 7 years . Just started warm glass a month ago. Sure do need to get my space in order. You’ve helpd alot!

  7. Rebecca March 4, 2009 at 10:33 am - Reply

    Awesome pix of your storage setup! I am new to warm glass and this is a great help. Thanx!

  8. Kirstan June 26, 2008 at 11:59 am - Reply

    THANK YOU! for fixing the photo links…this post is my ESSENTIAL resource as I build and set up my little studio which should be coming along now that my kiln is getting wired in today!

  9. DKblog » Blog Archive » Birth of a Glass Studio: Pt. I — have kiln, will fuse… June 25, 2008 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    […] I wanted until I searched through one of my new favorite glass bloggers and found Cynthia’s Studio Tour post…. very thorough and super helpful it gave me some great ideas on efficient storage and […]

  10. Charlie Gibbs January 8, 2008 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    cynthia–I see you are going to be at the OGG meeting. maybe i can make it for once.
    For glass rods I cut plastic pipe to length and glued them together in a pyramid stack with pipe glue. works good and is compact. pretty easy to move–don’t make the assembly too big. look forward to reading more on your site.

  11. Cynthia Morgan September 6, 2007 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Hi, Karyn. I posted on this quite some time ago, so it’s almost fallen off the map…but here’s the link on the portable photo studio:

    I’m still using that studio, although in the next couple of months I’ll probably set up a permanent spot in the studio with regular seamless paper and slightly better lights.



  12. Karyn Cott September 6, 2007 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    You mention a portable photo studio. Can you elaborate? What exactly have you done to achieve this?


  13. Cynthia May 18, 2007 at 1:06 am - Reply

    Thanks, Reisha. It’s been a few years and I’m afraid I don’t remember what they charged. Since then I’ve learned how to make acrylic stuff so I probably would do these on my own in any case. If they cut the sheets, it’s not hard to assemble them.

    The bin in the picture is made of quarter-inch acrylic and measures 20 inches deep, 20inches wide by 24 inches tall. It does indeed hold half-sheets of glass.

  14. Reisha Bryan May 17, 2007 at 9:57 am - Reply

    I like the glass storage bins you had made by Tap plastics. What are the dimensions of the bins- they look like they hold 1/2 sheets. Do you remember what they charged to fabricate them? thx Reisha

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