ESCONDIDO — A gentle touch, hours of work and laser-like focus hovers over James Stone every day.
The Escondido resident and his wife, Carol Rogers, have found their Zen as the powers behind Stone and Glass Gallery, 1285 Simpson Way. Stone, who found his calling as an artist years ago, works diligently and delicately as a glass blower, or one who molds glass at thousands of degrees into finely shaped pieces of art.
Recently, his latest commissioned piece was put on display in the boardroom at L’Auberge Del Mar.
“The picture gets merged with an idea and then you take action,” Stone said. “People come in and are hypnotized by the fire.”
His journey led him from a farm in New Jersey, through the theater and film industry in Nevada, New York and California, to New Mexico as a restaurant owner before finally becoming what he always wanted to be — a glass blower.
He became enamored with the art form in his youth, but never could seem to find the time or money to get away from the film industry after graduating from Farleigh Dickinson University.
Stone did some early glass blowing in Las Vegas and managed to start his own shop before drugs took over. Once he kicked the drugs, though, Stone went back to the film industry and landed in New York City.
“Before I took that turn, I did a project for the Sahara Space Center and seven chandeliers,” he said. “That was my first foray into hot glass.”
He tried to buy a gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, even leaving New York City with $30,000 and making the more than 2,000-mile trek only to find out it was sold from under him.
So, he took the cash and took over a lease on a restaurant, which he owned for seven years before moving to San Diego.
After moving to San Diego, he took classes at Palomar College and several years later, after still toiling in the film industry, it was the words of his celebrity crush, Cher, who forced him to take action. Just like that, he hopped off the couch and made a deal for his first studio in 2001.
He was there for 14 years before moving to Escondido last year.
“I built my studio from scratch, built all the equipment,” Stone said. “It’s just one coincidence after another that has led me here.”
About five years ago, a prophetic moment woke him to his calling, yet it also came at one of the most difficult times of his life. As he watched his mother take her last breath, she exhaled and, he said, he inhaled, taking his spirituality to another level.
Stone’s spirituality is paramount to his work, using the “energy” around him, his shop and the raging heat from his furnaces as his muse.
“It made sense to me, that we are all part of the energy and … we are all connected,” he said.
Stone’s art, though, centers on ocean life, its creatures and natural beauty. Yet, he also creates pieces focusing on the developing crisis with the ocean’s ecosystem.
As an environmentalist, his art is representation and reflection of the current and future state of the bodies of water.
When Stone isn’t busy creating, he’s busy teaching. He holds classes by reservation as often as he can, although the gallery is only open to the public Thursday through Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. and Sunday through Wednesday by appointment only.
His classes teach the basics of blowing glass and the delicate nature in which to handle to rod, extreme heat, coloring and more. He teaches Girl Scouts and other regional groups, including private and corporate groups.
In addition to his major pieces, Stone also produces tumblers, vases, bowls, lighting fixtures and beer glasses, which are some of his most popular work.
“I have developed this talk about creativity since my mom passed away,” he said. “I am positive all the seeds of creativity are in the energy.”
For more about the Stone and Glass Gallery, appointments, ordering or registering for a class, visit stoneandglass.com.