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Stained glass more than just for churches

People often associate stained glass with colorful church windows, but it's much more than that. Stained glass pieces can adorn almost anything, even Marilyn Monroe.

Linda Roach bought a life-sized fiberglass mannequin of the famed film star at the Galt flea market, despite the bright yellow hair, bad makeup and nails. She has spent two months giving her an extreme makeover, placing at least 10,000 pieces of iridescent white opal glass on the seated figure to duplicate the dress Monroe wore in the 1955 epic "The Seven Year Itch."

The 48-year-old Cressey woman figures she has at least another month to go to make Marilyn presentable, or even ravishing, using hobby knives to tediously clean glue from the grout surrounding the tiny glass tiles.

"I tend to take on projects bigger than myself," Roach said. "I like taking something odd and making something beautiful out of it. I love glass, doing something different."

Roach said everybody thinks working with glass is hard but it's not. Working with tiny pieces is very relaxing. She plans on entering the finished Marilyn Monroe at a June art and wine festival at Lake Arrowhead in Southern California.

Roach and a number of others take classes in stained glass from Resse Bigelow who has a studio on Broadway in downtown Atwater. Bigelow said stained glass is more than just "old school" church windows and entryway doors.

Stained glass can be glued to just about any type of medium, adorning statues, pots, concrete, frames, patio tables and stepping stones, clocks, even Marilyn Monroe figures, Bigelow said.

Mosaic is an ancient and contemporary art form that uses individual pieces of materials placed together to create a unified whole. Materials commonly used are glass, ceramics, marble, pebbles, mirror, shells and china.

Roach's fellow classmate Pam Raymond is working on a 13-inch terra cotta pot. It's ribbed at the top with three rows of half-inch tile squares in red, green, blue, yellow and orange. The bottom is festooned with blue, purple, green and orange tiles depicting starfish, fish and seashells.