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Meet Mary Ann Celinder of Celinder’s Glass Design in Huntington Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Ann Celinder.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Mary Ann. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
As a kid, I was always using my hands to make things: drawing, painting, shaping clay, weaving, embroidery, sewing my own clothes. If I bought a gift it didn’t feel like it was from me. At 16, a brother gave me some glass paints so it added to the projects I was already making. I’d buy old frames at second hand stores and paint the glass to look like stained glass.

Since I liked to read and write, I majored in English in college. A class in real stained glass in my senior year changed my direction. “I can get paid for creating? Yes, please!” I finished my English degree, but went right back to school to take more art classes. My drawing skills needed to develop and there are limitations to this type of work that need to be observed.

While developing my own style, I went to work for a company that repaired old windows. This was key to understanding why a leaded glass window can fail. Another job at a local studio impressed upon me how I needed to open my own business since they used the cheapest materials to make a higher profit. If you are taking the time for this kind of work, cutting corners with materials makes no sense.

In my late 20’s, my husband and I took glass blowing classes. This lead me to kiln work to create color transitions without lead lines and adding dimension to what is normally a 2-d media. Glass continues to fascinate me. I’ve never looked back and thought I should have spent my life doing something else.

There have been times in my life when building windows needed a break: the birth and babyhood of my three sons, vacations, operations, you know, life! Though I continue to love making the work, I’ve developed a great relationship with fabricators to build windows I design. I always work with the clients, draw the full-scale layouts and select the materials, but having great fabricators gives me freedom. I’m approaching my mid 60’s with no plans to retire, but I look ahead to designing more than fabricating as I grow older.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Learning to market myself was the first hurdle. When I quit my college-and-beyond day job, I realized really quickly it wouldn’t just happen. (That’s the point I started to work for other studios.) When I was ready to launch my own business, I started off making flyers and hand delivering to homes that had spaces that could use my work. I also opened the yellow pages (remember those?!) and found related business that could work with me. I made appointments and hit the streets to show my growing portfolio. I still work with a couple of those early contacts; a glass and mirror store who installs my work and a door company that makes custom doors. Both of these businesses get calls from people who need what I do and they are happy to have someone they can count on to refer. Working with me helps sell their products as well since our shared clientele needs their services.

Celinder’s Glass Design – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I started my business in 1975 making small gift items that sold on consignment in several stores. This was an okay way to start, but not something I wanted to continue. In the early days, I worked for a couple of local studios. This helped me define my direction for what I wanted to do with custom work.

My specialty is adding fused and painted elements to my work.

I am proud of my reputation as an artist and willing to work with my clients to realize their vision of what they want in a leaded glass window. It’s important to me to be flexible and help my clients understand the possibilities in glass. I’ve learned many techniques and design in several styles to create unique work.

I think what sets me apart is my passion for my work. Clients sense my enthusiasm as we talk and it can be contagious.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
There have been several high points but there is one that stands out: the installation of a 13′ x 13′ group of windows in a space that had been boarded up for nearly 30 years. Most of my work is residential but now and then I receive church commissions. Working with a church committee is a whole other ball of wax compared to working with a family to realize a vision.

The minister, the window committee head and a backup patron (in case the church members came up short on donations) and I met to go over themes for the space. It was to be abstract. I drew up the ideas and prepared a power point presentation for the committee. Little did I know, the minister had invited the entire membership of the church to come to the presentation. During the presentation, a member of the church self-described the group as one big dysfunctional family. So true!

Several personalities and ideas needed to come together. The meeting lead to another direction. I created a board with 3 different concepts, all pasted into photos I’d taken of the space to help visualize the project. The membership voted on their favorite.

On Easter Sunday 2005, celebrating the 30th anniversary, the window was unveiled. Knowing this piece will be a part of the regular services every week, comfort for memorials and the backdrop for countless weddings for years to come gave me a great sense of accomplishment.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Mary Ann Celinder

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

2 Comments

  1. Janice Zieke

    October 17, 2017 at 01:04

    Wow, what a wonderful description of the talents of Mary Ann Celender. I plan to add her art to a window in my home. Her work is so worth having. Her artistry sublime.

  2. Jimmy Quatro

    October 17, 2017 at 01:57

    Where is the church? Great story!

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