Glass, metal and family
Along with pet rocks and puka shells, artistic releases for people became very popular in the 1970s.
Ceramics and string-art classes became “fad-ulous,” as people were exploring different ways to express themselves. For instance, Michael Owens decided he wanted to tackle learning the art of stained glass as a hobby in 1975. One night, when his wife, Mary, was grading school papers, Michael asked her to draw up a crescent moon with an Indian maiden’s face on it.
“She’s like… yeah, here,” said Michael, imitating a busy person rushing through something to placate the requestor. “It was a ‘get-out-of-here’ type of thing — and that became our logo. That was in 1976.”
Mary was an accomplished painter, said Michael, and he would get her help on designs for his stained glass projects. Their routine continued, and Michael was eventually able to give up his full-time job and just focus on his art, spending 12-hour days in his studio in the couple’s detached garage.
In 1992, Maid on the Moon became the feature artist in a fantasy art gallery in Annapolis called the Pendragon. “They said, ‘Here. You can have the gallery for the month.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ So, we had to come up with a bunch of fantasy art — suns, wizards, various winds… It just kind of evolved into a product line,” said Michael. “And that just continued to evolve based on requests and other things that we wanted to make. And here we are.”
But there was one more vital element to join the Maid on the Moon team. In 2002, their daughter, Katie Kirk, fresh from finishing college and still searching for where she wanted to go next, wandered into Michael’s shop while he was working.
“I said, ‘Hey, Dad, do you need help with anything?’ And he gave me something to work on. That sort of unofficially started an apprenticeship. I did that for the first couple years, and…”
“All of a sudden, it just clicked,” said Michael. “I was at a point where I was working 12-hour days, and loving every minute of it, and I became pretty proficient at it. Then Katie joined me, and she learned all the tricks. We’re both process-oriented. You know there’s a series of steps, and we looked at how we could get from Step 1 to Step 5 more quickly.”
The two of them worked on their process, while getting artistic input from Mary, and the studio continued to grow.
The family now owns a second studio, located in Millville, and will be showcasing their stained-glass art in the Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival on Sept. 9. Michael had done the show years ago, but this is the first time the whole family team will be on the boards, showcasing their efforts.
“Well, obviously, the atmosphere at the show is great,” said Michael, on why Maid on the Moon is looking forward to the show.
“Also, the area,” said Katie. “I grew up coming to Bethany Beach. This has been our second home, and even more so now that Mom and Dad own the place down here. We’ve always loved the area. It’s important to us to become a part of this community as we spend more time down here. I mean, they intend to retire eventually and move down here full-time…”
“Whatever that means,” said Michael, laughing.
“This place is great,” added Katie. “We joined the [Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce] and have been welcomed with open arms. We want to be part of the community, and the area is just so beautiful. You have the ocean right behind you (during the show). It’s a one-day show outside, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun — a great way to meet people and to see other artists in the area.”
The family also mentioned how much easier it is for them to participate in the show, now that they have a studio in the area.
“With stained glass, it’s breakable and it’s heavy, so packing up and setting up for a show takes a lot of work,” said Katie. “Now it makes a lot of sense to do the show, especially now that it’s only three miles up the road.”
“If the car breaks down, we can just drag it all down there,” added Michael.
Their studio houses an array of stained-glass art, ranging from small to large, relatively simple to extremely complex. They also work on transoms, sidelights, fireplace screens, privacy screens and more. They do work that they design out of their own three minds, and custom work, if someone is willing to be patient enough to get in line for a commission job.
“We did a panel of someone’s grandchildren walking to the shore,” said Mary. “It was from a photograph, so that’s the part I do. Then Katie or Mike, or both, build it.”
Maid on the Moon’s studio is located at 31388 Railway Road in Millville, and they are available there by appointment. They can be reached at (240) 475-8242, or online at www.maidonthemoonstainedglass.com.