Each year during General Session, we bring together speakers from around the world to speak about restoration, conservation, public art, history, and technology in the field. It is not uncommon to have roundtables to tackle emerging issues or panels of experts to provide clarity on how industry elements are being tackled across the country.
Speakers and lectures are chosen by a panel of peers for both their content and enthusiasm. The expertise of historians, conservators, and contemporary practitioners come together in a unique way to celebrate the enormous diversity of the entire industry.
In recent years, additional efforts have been made to bring notable guests and speakers to the conferences that can speak to the partnerships our work often requires, e.g. those in adaptive reuse, metalsmithing, masonry conservation, sacred places, fundraising, and public art. There has also been a great many collaborations within the larger glass arts community as it applies to architectural art glass - kilnforming, flameworking, lamination, etc - and it is always exciting to see how connections made at the annual conference push the boundaries of new work.
Classes & Workshops
Conferences offer a unique opportunity to learn both beginning and advanced techniques and are often geared toward the unique strengths of that year’s conference host.
We tailor the workshops at each conference to nearby facilities and studio resources that are unique to that year's location. We have offered classes in sandblasting, engraving, stained glass design, dragonfly software, advanced studio techniques, beginning and advanced kilnforming, fusing techniques, screenprinting, lamination, acid etching, angel gilding, drone technology and restoration photography, advanced restoration painting and glass painting basics, rondel-making and more.
We have been very fortunate to work with incredible teachers from all over the globe at our conferences - leaders in the field who have often generously donated their time to share their knowledge with our members and attendees.
The Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) is the largest nonprofit mosaic art organization in the world—a vibrant and ever-expanding group of more than 1,200 members, including mosaic artists at all levels, mosaic aficionados, collectors, materials suppliers, and art educators. SAMA has put renewed emphasis on strengthening ties with other mosaic organizations around the globe to pursue common goals.
The Mosaic Marathon brings together our members for a unique opportunity to create a mosaic in a cooperative, continuous, networking experience. The Mosaic Marathon creates a lasting piece of art that is donated to a local charity in our host conference city. As a not-for-profit organization, this is an opportunity for SAMA to give back to the arts community and create a lasting reminder of the legacy of SAMA and its mission.
Tours & Field Sessions
The history and appreciation of stained glass is inseparable from both its setting as an architectural element and of the very nature of the material itself. For craftsmen and artists in the field to gain exposure to the vast living museums of stained glass, they must visit stained glass all over the world whenever they can. Installations all over the world are our museums, our laboratorys, and our classrooms.
Thus, when we come together as a group, we must take advantage of our travel and our companions to go and experience installations, to discuss them with our peers, and to investigate ongoing care and restoration concerns that affect us all. This is one of the most useful ways we can learn as a group.
Nearly every conference includes at least one full day of site visits and installation tours. In addition, our community has been known to schedule and participate in special travel opportunities both in the United States and abroad to experience as much stained glass as possible.
The tours are almost always stand-alone events which can be attended outside of General Session participation and are often open to the public.
Auction & Scholarships
At each conference, members have the opportunity to browse through tables laden with books, sample sets, vendor products, tools, and artwork from members. Our annual silent and live auction at the summer conference is a major source of funding for scholarship assistance. Donations directly fund scholarships for professional stained glass instruction all over the country and beyond.
On exhibition years, work is donated to our live auction, which is an opportunity to collect autonomous work by any number of our talented members.
"I have been attending conferences for decades and I have collected all of these panels made by these incredible artists that inspire me. They are hanging in my breakfast nook. Now, I feel like I am eating breakfast with my friends even between conferences and it is fabulous."
- S.G., New York
Camaraderie, Networking & Celebration
The highlight of each year is our annual conference. The hub of the entire conference is the Vendor Marketplace, networking starts over breakfast, mentorships take form by lunch. Business is discussed, motions made and voted on, officers and executive committee members elected, reports read and exhibitions displayed.
Year after year we build on the shoulders of giants, sharing our cumulative knowledge with one another. The magic of providing space for the unplanned to occur: the intermingling of artist, craftsmen, business people and suppliers. They exchange ideas, have impromptu demonstrations, and socialize. It is the chemistry created by our shared passion for the glass material that keeps bringing us back together.
At our business meetings, we not only attend to the business of the day, we recognize those who have achieved professional recognition in the field. We seek to learn what challenges may face us next. We are just as eager to hear from emerging professionals as we are to hear from the recognized experts.
Each annual conference ends with an award banquet where we celebrate Lifetime Achievements as well as up-and-coming voices. We have been extremely fortunate over the years to hear from a number of distinguished speakers at our banquets who have given luscious, inspiring presentations to send us energetically on our way.
Friendships & Networking
Education & Inspiration
Industry News & Information
Travel & Discovery