No Average Job: Glass Haunt

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By WSIL Manager

BENTON -- We head to Franklin County this week for a closer look at a business that's on the cutting edge of art. The owner of Glass Haunt in Benton shows us why working with stained glass is No Average Job.

Just off McCleansboro Street in Benton, in a house more than a century old, is a place where breaking glass is actually encouraged.
 
"Pretty much if you can imagine it in glass, we can make it."
 
Ruth Green has been in the stained glass business for 22 years. It's a business she says she sort of fell into, and quickly fell in love with.
       
All it took was a stroll by a glass cutting shop when an unfinished piece of work caught her eye.
 
"It looked like such exacting work and it really fit my perfect, exacting nature, and I thought I have to learn how to do that," said Ruth.
 
So she did and today her company, Glass Haunt, sells to customers nationwide and beyond,
from right here in southern Illinois. They make large custom windows for homes and churches and also have an exclusive line of cabinet doors with Lowes.
 
"The idea that you can create something that's going to last longer than your lifetime is actually an amazing thought," Ruth said.
 
Ruth says anyone who orders from her company can be sure the product is one of a kind, but originality takes hard work, and glass is unforgiving of mistakes.
 
"You know, unlike fabric, it's not going to stretch. The cuts have to be perfect, the fits have to be perfect. It's all about the workmanship because if you don't have good workmanship then the window is simply not going to hold up, it's not going to stay together."
 
It starts with a customer idea, then Ruth takes it to a computer program designed specifically for stained glass creations. Once design plans are finalized, the real work begins.
       
There's cutting and breaking, putting the pieces together like a puzzle, foiling and soldering, and it's still not done. The piece then has to be cleaned.
 
It's a labor of love for Ruth. When you ask her why she loves it so much, she tells a story of a Noah's Ark scene she created for a day care center, when she was first starting her career. The reaction from the toddlers when the window went up was priceless.
 
"And there is complete silence, nobody said a word, the children were just in awe looking at this window. And all of sudden you heard, 'Oh giraffe, oh zebra.' What was very special about that was, we live in this age of TV and video games, why didn't they just equate the stained glass with looking at a TV screen? They saw it for the art that it was."  
 
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