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The Art of Glass: Creating Beautiful Handmade Treasures

Looking for a fun way to spend a couple of hours either on your own or with family and friends while making a beautiful treasure at the same time? Then take a class at Glass Arts Collective in Westlake Village.

The light-filled, airy 1,700-square-foot studio is a fully equipped glass-making shop that inspires people’s creativity.

“The energy that is coming off the colors of the glass is amazing,” says owner Nancy Marks. “People just want to touch it.”

When you first come in for an introductory class, you’ll learn a bit about the different types of glass and, most importantly, the basic skills to make lovely designs.

“The classes are really about teaching technique and refining your comfort with those techniques by having someone there to guide you,” she says.

You’ll start out with a flat glass base in which to place your glass pieces, which you cut using a scoring tool and a breaking tool to get different sizes and shapes of glass. You can use one layer or stack the glass to make even more complex designs. There are usually four projects to choose from—a coaster, a plant stake, magnets or a suncatcher. In addition to the basic glass pieces you’ll receive for your project, there’s also a treasure chest of various-sized color pieces.

Once finished, participants leave their project with Nancy, who will put them in the kiln so the glass pieces can fuse together. Participants then return to pick up their masterpieces.

“What you create is unique, and they make great personal gifts for family and friends that they can’t find anywhere else,” says Nancy.

The classes progressively build your skills; it’s not a one-time thing. No matter what you do, says Nancy, it takes practice. But people should not be intimidated by it.

“I try to emphasize how easy it is,” she notes. Most classes are two-hours long, with plans for multi-day summer workshops, as well as holiday-themed classes later in the year. Classes are geared toward every skill level for those 7 years of age and up.

The studio can be reserved for birthday parties, girl scout events and corporate team-building activities.

“We also have wine night, where participants bring in the wine, or there’s a brewery in the same complex, so people can stop there and bring in beer,” says Nancy, a technology professional who has worked for Sony Pictures, IBM and Toshiba, who never thought she would own an art studio. But when her mother started taking fused-glass classes at her assisted-living facility, Nancy wanted to learn more.

“I didn’t really know what my mom was doing, but she was so excited,” she explains.

So, she found a fused-glass studio and, after making a few projects, was impressed with the results. Nancy never considered herself artistically gifted.

“I made a little box and two necklace pendants, and when people saw them they asked where I got them,” Nancy recalls.

She then held her mom’s 85th birthday party in what is now her glass studio, but which at the time was owned by someone else.

“She and her friends were able to make coasters and sun catchers and they loved it!” Nancy notes, adding, “The instructor was so inviting and so warm, and she’s the one who got me hooked.”

When the owner decided to close the Westlake location, Nancy didn’t have a place to go anymore.

“My husband encouraged me to open my own studio. He said, ‘You love people and you love sharing, and your enthusiasm and the way you feel while doing it is contagious,’” she shares.

Nancy brought in artist Carolyn Schlam, an award-winning painter and glass artist, who suggested expanding from just fused glass to mosaic and stained glass; she also hired multiple instructors. For experienced artists, she offers Open Studio memberships. There is an hourly, monthly or annual membership, so they get use of the studio and the tools, and then pay for their supplies and kiln time.

“We have some really talented people coming into the studio and I feel so blessed to have so much talent in our area finding me,” she says. “It’s primarily by word of mouth.”

To find out more, or to take a class, visit or call 818.318.1462.