Inside SP’s Glass Menagerie

Carla Morales, general manager of Bullseye Glass. Photos by Kamala Kirk

If you’ve driven along Pasadena Avenue at night and noticed pretty colors lit up from inside the large brick building next door to Judson Studios, you’ve just passed Bullseye Glass.

Bullseye was founded in Portland, Ore., in 1974 by three art school graduates, Rah Ahlgren, Boyce Lundstrom and Dan Schwoerer, who made colored sheets for the stained-glass trade. A chance encounter in 1979 with artist Klaus Moje inspired them to produce a palette of tested-compatible glasses for creating works in a kiln, and over the years they have expanded with several resource centers across the United States.

“I worked as an in-house graphic designer at a studio that sold and worked with Bullseye glass in Cincinnati, which is how I became familiar with them,” said Carla Morales, who has been the store manager and an instructor at the South Pasadena location since it opened four years ago.

“When I saw they were opening a location in Los Angeles, I was interested in working for them because I had already worked with their material. It’s a great group of people, and I love that everything is made in our Portland factory.”

Morales oversees the day-to-day operations at the South Pasadena studio, which sells the entire Bullseye glass product line along with tools — and provides classes for all levels from the novice to the experienced artist.

“In Portland we have an entire fabrication department where we do architectural projects and work one-on-one with artists,” said Morales. “But in our space here we focus on selling the materials and teaching classes. We participate in the annual Jackalope Arts fair in Pasadena, we’re always teaming up with Judson Studios, and for the past three years we’ve hosted a holiday party with SPARC (the independent South Pasadena Arts Council).

“It’s a good time — we open up the studio, roughly a hundred people come through, food is served and people can make ornaments.”

Bullseye offers a wide array of weekly classes and workshops, including several 2 ½-hour introductory classes for those interested in beginning their art glass education or learning new techniques. Course offerings include Glass Fusing Fundamentals, Graphic Coasters, Perfect Pendants, Ornaments, and Crash Course in Glass Cutting, among others.

“All of our intro courses are project-based, so you get to make and go home with something after it’s been fired in a kiln,” explained Morales. “We also offer longer, more comprehensive classes, and we have visiting instructors that fly out here to teach their techniques. It’s a really cool way to learn from established artists. If you’re new, I would suggest jumping in with one of the intro classes to get a feel for the technique.”

One of the most popular classes is Glass Fusing Fundamentals, in which participants learn how glass behaves with heat, how to cut glass, as well as how to work with a wide range of glass styles. They also get to create and take home an eight-inch square plate.

“Everything we do is made in our 12 kilns,” said Morales. “We have glass in many different forms, including powdered glass, and we can teach you how to screen print with it. Class sizes are typically 12 students and for 18 and up. We will be releasing new classes soon that we’ve never had before, including squishing and compressing the glass to make pretty dishes.”

Those interested can sign up for a class by either visiting the website, giving the studio a call or stopping by in-person. Intro classes start at $125 and include all supplies and materials. For those who have taken a class at Bullseye, they’re welcome to come back for Open Studio, where they can purchase their own glass and work independently on their own projects and rent kiln time.

“We also have a lot of videos on our website because Bullseye is all about sharing information and education to help people do things on their own,” said Morales. “We don’t keep any secrets. We are always making new videos, including some with established artists, to show from start to finish how to do various techniques. We’re all about sharing knowledge.”

Bullseye Glass also has an Artist in Residence Program, which is currently taking applications. Artists who are accepted into the program receive a stipend and get the opportunity to come in and work for three months at a time.

The studio’s large retail space features a wide color palette of glass in sheets, stringer form, rod form, powder and other different forms. It also sells books, tools and gift cards that can be used toward classes or materials.

“We’re open to the public, and many people stop in because they’ve driven by at night and seen all of our color swatches light up, so they come by because they’re curious,” Morales said.

Bullseye Glass is open Tues. – Fri. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sat. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sun. from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.bullseyeglass.com.