What to do tonight: Capture the sun with Daviea Davis at Phipps Garden Center

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Sunshine is precious in Pittsburgh. It's so beautiful and warming and inspiring. Wouldn't it be great if we could capture it?

You'll be able to do that if you take part in the "Glass Flowers, Glass Plants" class tonight at the Phipps Garden Center on Shady Avenue in Squirrel Hill. The class, taught by local artist Daviea Davis, guides students through the creation of mosaic suncatchers, fashioned out of scraps of colored glass.

"We feel very lucky to have her teaching," said Gabe Tilove, adult education coordinator at Phipps Conservatory. "She uses all reclaimed glass, glass that would otherwise be junk. We're into green and healthy living and reusing materials. And the work is botanically inspired, so it enables us to connect people to nature in a different way.

"Plus, she makes the class a lot of fun."

Ms. Davis describes herself as "a third-generation Highland Parker now living in Edgewood." She's been working in salvaged stained-glass scraps for more than 15 years.

"I used to work with tile, and then someone gave me a box of glass and I started loving it," she said. "It's abundant and it's beautiful.

Ms. Davis' works have been shown throughout the city, including two substantial pieces, 13-by-4 feet each, on display for the past several years at Pittsburgh International Airport.

But the pieces of glass that she collects aren't necessarily large. A ray of light passing through a small piece of colored glass can spark the wildest of imaginations.

"I never feel like I have enough glass," she said. "I now have a lot to share, and that's why I teach. It seems stupid for it to stay without light coming through it."

Those attending the class don't have to bring any materials. Just the class fee -- $25 for members, $35 for non-members -- and you'll leave the session with your own 8-by-10-inch suncatcher.

"Every time I teach I learn. We have a really good time," Ms. Davis said. "I've been doing this for a few years. It's the same class, but it's different every time. We only have three rules."

There's always rules.

"First, you pick glass that makes you happy," Ms. Davis said. "You pick through the buckets of scraps. You never know what you're gonna find. Sometimes just one piece inspires the whole thing. If it makes your eye dance, you've found glass that makes you happy."

And the other rules?

"Everything flows together," she said. "And let it dry flat. I've broken each of these rules, and that's how I've learned."

What more can you ask for? You can break the rules, you can break the glass.

"There's a joy to creating something beautiful from scraps," Ms. Davis said. "It's an ancient art form. Since the first pottery fell off the first shelf.

"When you're done, it makes a little window in your window. You put these in your window, you sit down and you just look at it and trip out on it."

The "Glass Flowers, Glass Plants" class begins at 7 p.m. and lasts two hours.

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This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/


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