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In The Kingdom of Glass


Shea Stanfield
“In the kingdom of glass everything is transparent.” Vera Nazarian. 

There are few things in life more brilliant and uplifting than the gleaming, shimmering, and transparent glow of colored glass illuminating our world.  Local artist, Charlie Wolter, is one of the grand masters in the kingdom of fused glass design and construction.

Growing up in a small farming community in Minnesota Charlie was a long way from the glass presence that occupied the larger cities.  After high school he attended North Dakota State University, in Fargo, N.D., where he played football while working toward his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.  Upon graduation Charlie moved to Northern Illinois where he began his career in the aerospace industry.  During his climb up the career ladder he would hit the rungs of Rockford, Ill.; Arlington, TX.; San Francisco, Calif. and finally, Long Beach, Calif. where he met his wife Joanie.

Nearing the culmination of his career, Charlie became aware of a need for a new rocket nozzle coating system to protect metal nozzles from erosion and oxidation.  Within a year, Charlie had not only completed the development effort, but had the coating qualified for use on the guidance system nozzles on a new defense missile program.  The coating has become the baseline on a number of additional development programs.

While living in Long Beach, Charlie started working in stained glass.  He began by making windows for their home and was soon commissioned to make windows for friends’ homes as well.  In November 2006, after several vacations to Sedona, Ariz. Charlie and Joanie decided they had found their perfect retirement area, and by June 2007 they were happy homeowners there.

Retirement, in the common definition, was not in the stars for Charlie, he immediately started a consulting business.  While Charlie was busy with that, Joanie became an active member at the Sedona Arts Center.  Because of her involvement Charlie became increasingly interested in the arts and accepted a position on the Center’s board.  During this time Charlie also took a class in fused glass.

“Fused glass was a natural fit for me with an existing glass hobby and much of my career involving the thermal processing of exotic aerospace materials,” as Charlie remembers.

He then traveled to Las Vegas to the Glass Craft and Bead Expo where he took additional classes in fused glass.  He then took what he learned from his instructors and integrated it into his own techniques.

Today, Charlie and Joanie Wolter, live in North Scottsdale where they both have home studios under the name of Cuvee (a blend of humor, creativity, imagination and media).  He and Joanie both are members of the Sonoran Arts League and a host studio during the annual Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour held each November. 

Charlie is honored to be the artist and creator of the 2016 and 2017 Blue and Gold Gala Award for the Arizona Agricultural Education/Future Farmers of America Foundation.  Currently, his work has been juried into a show at the Holland Gallery of Fine Art at the Foothills Community Center in North Scottsdale, from now until April 27, for information visit 

He also accepts commissions as well as visitors to his studio by appointment.  To view Charlie’s “Transparent Kingdom of Glass,” or to contact him, visit his website at

Contact Arts Columnist, Shea Stanfield, on