Chip Worsinger was a kid from back east with one of those boring
things we call a day job.
While inspecting a glass company on Pico Boulevard for an
insurance company, he struck up a conversation with the owner who was
working with stained glass.
"I asked him a lot of questions and he was happy to answer them
all," Worsinger said. "Back then there wasn't much stained glass
being done except for repairs on church windows."
The owner was so taken by Worsinger's fascination, he packed him
off with a box of tools and scraps of glass. That was 32 years ago.
Now Worsinger, along with more than 60 active West Coast Artists
and high-quality craftsmen, will display his glass art at the
Downtown Burbank Fine Arts Festival today and tomorrow.
The festival takes place outdoors on San Fernando Boulevard
between Magnolia Boulevard and Orange Grove Avenue. San Fernando
Boulevard will be closed to traffic during the shows. There's no fee
for parking in the nearly 9,000 spaces.
Around the time Worsinger got his start, he discovered the
Renaissance Pleasure Fair and realized that the artists were having
far more fun than him. The following year he got his own booth.
"I made stained glass peace symbols, candleholders and butterflies
-- whatever I could," Worsinger said.
The one year the fair was canceled there was a mad scramble to get
rid of all the surplus stock, so he sold his goods to drug
paraphernalia shops and a few other stores. What set his business in
motion was when the movie studios picked up the peace symbols because
they liked the camera play on the light shining through them. After
that, he began wholesaling them nationally.
In the 1960s when the craft was practically a lost art, another
opportunity knocked. Jean Morgan, co-founder of the "Free Press"
underground newspaper, offered him an opportunity to teach a glass
class at her co-op store on the Sunset Strip.
He believes that the revival of the art was due to one of his
students, an unemployed actor named Richard Chamberlain, whose
fascination with the art echoed his own.
"He made some incredible windows that he displayed during his TV
interviews and the directors loved it," Worsinger said. "Suddenly he
was all over the TV promoting stained glass."
Worsinger also created a specialized glass etching technique while
developing a prototype computer circuit board for the aerospace
industry. He has a whole line of stained glass, boxes, candleholders
and sun catchers that are being distributed nationally.