Nov 18, 201503:03 PMArt Beat

Rainbow Vision Stained Glass

Nov 18, 2015 - 03:03 PM
Rainbow Vision Stained Glass

Photography by Britt Macaulay

Work tables stand strewn with an array of glass in vibrant blends of reds and greens, bursts of blue shot through with purple and yellow as people of all ages and expertise press down with their tools in calm focus to etch lines that can be made to crack clean edges.


Soldering irons warm metal wires to liquid, which is used to hold each piece of glass to another, while in the next room over, sheets of glass stacked by color or design stand in cubbies ready to be chosen to coax into any template imaginable.

And it all started with a Yellow Page ad.


Lynn Haunstein’s husband found it and purchased a gift certificate for his wife for Christmas along with the proper tools and supplies.


Over 15 years ago, Haunstein took her first class at Rainbow Vision Stained Glass in Harrisburg. That one class led to another and another, and then two years into her training, the late Michael Johnston, then owner of the company, recognized her skill in and dedication to the craft and asked if she’d be interested in teaching a class for him.


She has been a stained-glass enthusiast ever since, teaching classes, creating custom works, repairing antiques for customers and publishing books of her own on the topic.


The shop is a converted Victorian home on Walnut Street that doubles as both training center and supply shop for beginners, experts and everyone in between. The niche business draws folks in from the far corners of Pennsylvania and even from other states.


While the company was founded on stained glass, over the years, Haunstein has managed to expand its offerings to warm glass fusing, training people on how to create stunning beads and pieces of dichroic glass with strange iridescent bubbles and stripes, one color of glass encapsulating another, a hidden secret revealed only in the right light.


In the age of Facebook and Groupon, Rainbow Vision has seen a recent resurgence in popularity, and Haunstein found that she can advertise less expensively and more effectively to the specific audience that tends to be drawn to this unique artistic endeavor.

Still, while technology may be able to draw attention to her business, it is Haunstein’s palpable passion for her work that keeps them coming back.


“Every day that I come in, I love being here,” she says. “I love what I do. I love the people. I enjoy teaching the classes and watching people take that first uncertain step and the awe on their faces when a perfect cut breaks as they’d planned.”


Haunstein’s joy in this work is contagious, and it shows in the consistency with which some of her students keep coming back.


“Mondays tend to be my regulars,” she says. For many years, these same folks have gathered as a group to support each other and learn and grow together in the craft. “They know each other and come here for both the glass and the company.”


To give a sense of the effect a beautiful work of glass can have on folks, Haunstein describes one of her regulars who stopped in one day to create a custom glass work for fitting above his home’s arched transom.  Since installing his own, he has successively brought various neighbors into the store so that they can choose the glass they’d like him to use to create a work above their own home’s front door.


One can describe the beauty of a work, abstract or even a scene in glass of something akin to the Susquehanna River, but seeing for yourself is the best way to understand what Rainbow Vision brings to the region.


The company celebrates its 30th year in business this year. Stop in to congratulate Haunstein, and enjoy the works yourself.

About This Blog

Art matters from a financial, cultural vibrancy and economic growth perspective, and ultimately it affects the quality of life for those with access to it. It's the visceral impact of the arts that hits hard and lingers long:  the way that an indelible image may worm its imprint into your eye and then mind and then dreams.  The forlorn droop of a melody, and the sign of resignation from a local trumpet player's final note. The unbearably gorgeous and aching silence of the final scene of a film shot in our region.  Every one of these offerings exists here in the midstate, and beats strong with art, and we must support it.


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