Copyright   © Rae Grout,  All rights reserved. Revised: February 8, 2019

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I lived in the Seattle area in the late 80’s and early 90’s working as a Process Engineer with a Chemical Engineering background. To keep up with the fast paced high tech industries I needed to continually take classes that ran the gambit in alphabet soup acronyms such as ISO-900 and TQI. Suffering from extreme stress and burnout I switch technical classes to more artistic classes studding painting, fine art and sculpture. I first met Dale Chihuly during this time, he would mean more to me later on in my life then he did at the time. Soon I felt I was a right brained person trapped in a very left brain world and there was more to my life then high tech avionics.

After my marriage fell apart and my universe became unraveled I moved back to Montana with my 13 year old son. I built a house close to my parents and brothers houses and enjoyed the support and love of my friends and family. In 2002 my son was moving out of the house on his way to Portland to attend Portland State University.  He gently encouraged me to branch out a little, in the kindest way he told me to get a life and start dating. Hanging out in a bars and looking for “a friend” was not my idea of fun ~ in my youth I had my share of those experiences (the drinking age was 18 when I was a teenager in Montana and getting into bars was loosely enforced) but at the mature age of 42 I was not up for the challenges.  

I posted my profile on an on-line dating site and immediately had my in box full of interesting caricatures. Most of which I sent a polite note back to saying thank you but no thanks. A lot of the inquiries were too far from where I lived or as my son would call it “they had too much tractor factor”.  One really caught my eye and I liked his profile ~ he lived 250 miles away but he was intriguing enough to get to know and so started the conversation. His wife had just left him and he was raising their 4 soon to be 5 year old daughter. I was not too serious about being serious, I was new to the dating scene and so was he.

At the time I was working at a laser company. Every night after work I could hardly wait to get home and check my e-mail. This was like receiving a love letter in the mail everyday and getting to know one another from the inside out. I loved receiving his e-mails, with each back and forth we found we had so much in common. He lived in the Seattle area the same time I did and we haunted the same places. We both really liked technology, high fidelity, sci-fi ~ we were parallel geek's who also have a passion for the outdoors. Our paths must have crossed a thousand times when we lived in Seattle.

After 6 months of swapping e-mails back and forth we met in person for the first time. He showed up on my door step with a glass rose and a marble he made for me. When I looked into his eyes for that first time it was like we were star dust from the same ancient star that had blown apart years ago, and we were finding each other again after the explosion.  

When I initially drove to Bill’s farm in the Bitterroot Valley I fell in love with the beauty of the place. His house sits in-between the Sapphire and Bitterroot mountain ranges with 360 degree views. I also fell in love with his beautiful little girl, when he sat me down at the torch to show me how to play with fire

I fell in love with melting glass. I was reminded as a little girl I would melt bottles in our campfires, maneuvering them and shaping them in the flames using sticks. One of the worst burns I had was pulling a melted bottle out of the coals the next day, it was still hot enough to burn my hand and crack as I was holding it. I had not yet learned thermal dynamics and the power of annealing glass. My first introduction to glass and the physics of glass. To this day the science of glass is more fascinating to me then the beauty of glass. Beautiful glass is just a byproduct of its real cool chemistry.

In 2003 I moved to the Bitterroot Valley to live with Bill, his daughter and become a full time glass artist. In 2004 Bill and I eloped. Since Lord of the Rings was our first date movie it was only fitting we have wedding bands from the Lord of the Rings collection. At the time we sold our glass art on-line, Missoula's Peoples Market and various art shows. In 2009 we opened a little glass “gift and gallery” store, we had a great run for 4 years. Our store had a torch set up and Bill would do glass blowing demos as I enjoyed conversing with our customers. The 5th year of being in our little glass store sales dropped off and our on-line sales were covering the stores expenses. In 2014 we closed our store to concentrate on our on-line sales. After our store closed we have gone full circle by selling our glass on-line, occasional art shows and at Hamilton’s Farmers market. Today Bill specializes in blown glass hummingbird feeders, drawer pulls and vortex marbles. I specialize in blown glass, bottle stoppers, Italian marbles and roses. Glass roses and marbles still make’s my heart sing.

The Story of Bill & Rae