Living on the edge: Couple’s glass-repair business has a clear mission

EMMETT, Idaho – A broken glass led Wayne Montano to a new career.

“In 1981 my husband was a laid-off air traffic controller,” his wife, Jan, explained in a recent phone interview. “We enjoy collecting antique glassware. My favorite is Fostoria while Wayne likes cut glass. When he was out of work we began setting up at major antique shows near our southern California home.

Montanosc.jpg“When a goblet in our collection needed repairs, we contacted glass repairer Jim Eberhardt of Ontario, Calif., and found out he was ready to retire after 32 years in business. After much family discussion, Wayne decided to apprentice under Eberhardt and then take over his business. The four-year apprenticeship was condensed into two and one half years because my husband was willing to work 10-hour days six days a week. It was a hard time for our family,” Jan remembered.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Wayne became known as the “glass doctor,” although he also repairs broken china. The Montanos set up regularly at several California antique shows and had a circuit of antique shops throughout the state that customers could use as a drop-off and pick-up point.

“For more than 25 years we have been providing a service repairing antique and collectible glass,” Jan said. “Our specialty is the re-cutting and restoration of American brilliant-cut glass using stone wheels, copper wheels and modern diamond-wheel cutting. Our cutting shop has about 350 stone wheels and diamond cutting wheels. We also repair Galle, Lalique, Verlys and many other types of art glass. We can duplicate the finish on these types of items.

“We also mend glass and crystal using permanent crystal-clear adhesives. If the piece has a clean crack with no chips along the edges, the adhesive we use can hide up to 90 percent of the break. We can replace daubers on the ends of perfume stoppers and Wayne can even make an antenna for a Steuben snail.

“About 60 percent of the pieces we repair are goblets. Most of the work is taking nicks out of the rims. That’s accomplished by grinding down the entire rim, and then re-beveling the edge.”

Now empty nesters, the couple moved to Emmett in 2005 to be closer to family. Many customers now ship their items needing repair.

When asked about their toughest tasks, Jan remembers an 18-inch cut-glass lampshade in a geometric pattern that came to them in more than 360 pieces. “The job took us seven months,” she recalled. “We worked on it as often as we could. I taped the pieces and Wayne repaired as I built the piece. It was well worth the time and money to the customer because it was a family heirloom.”

Overall, Wayne said onyx is the most difficult glass to mend. Produced for a short time beginning in 1886, it is layered glass usually found in creamy white, accented with metal luster that has been trapped between two layers. It becomes brittle and that makes it difficult to repair.

During the peak glass-collecting years of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the energetic couple repaired as many as 10,000 pieces of glass each year. The number of repairs in 2006 totaled about 6,000. However, the number of extremely complex repairs has grown significantly as word of Montano’s skills has spread.

“Most of our customers are concerned about the sentimental value of the item and not how much it’s worth. Only about five percent of our customers are antique dealers,” Jan said.

For More Information:
Montano’s Antique Glass Repair
828 S. Washington Ave. #128
Emmett, Idaho 83617