Hampton couple creates lasting keepsakes

Deborah Deasy
| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

A big awards program for local Catholics perennially relies on a Lutheran couple from Hampton.

George and Donna Masche own the Etched in Glass shop in Richland that produces all the Manifesting the Kingdom Awards presented by the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Every two years, people from every parish in the diocese — along with members of local religious congregations — receive the awards for exceptional church services and demonstrating “the presence of Jesus in their lives.”

This year, Etched in Glass is producing about 230 personalized glass keepsakes for the 2013 awardees.

“I think it's wonderful that people who work in the church are rewarded,” said Donna Masche, 77, an Iowa native and one-time elementary schoolteacher.

Etched in Glass produced its first Manifesting the Kingdom Awards about a dozen years ago.

“It's a good order. We do a lot for the diocese,” said George Masche, 78, former president of Innovative Technologies, a former Westinghouse subsidiary.

Years ago, when his job transferred the couple to Belgium, the Masches — formerly of Fox Chapel — helped to start the first English-speaking Lutheran church in Brussels.

Today, the Masches help a wide variety of people — from grieving families to thankful employers — by producing items such as sun catchers and wine bottles etched with images and names of loyal workers, loved ones and all-purpose awardees.

“I love working here — you actually make things people want to keep,” said designer Emily Bua, a Duquesne University graduate and one of the Masches' five employees.

Each Manifesting the Kingdom Award begins as a 6-inch-by-8-inch curved piece of spotless, beveled glass.

Etched in Glass receives the names of awardees from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and an employee then puts the names into a computer to produce printouts used to transfer the names — and Bishop David Zubik's seal — onto light-sensitive stencil material.

Each stencil then goes into an exposure machine before it's washed and placed on the clear, curved glass for etching in a sandblasting-type machine.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, former bishop of Pittsburgh, locally launched the Manifesting the Kingdom Awards. Wuerl then introduced the awards program in the nation's capital when he moved to the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

Etched in Glass made the glass keepsakes presented to the first Washington, D.C., diocesan awardees on Jan. 2, 2011 in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The Masches delivered those awards to Wuerl en route to Baltimore for a Christmas 2012 visit with daughter, Jenny Masche. April Pickering, the Masches' other daughter, lives in Florence, S.C.

“Cardinal Wuerl has fond memories of the Masches' visit to Washington,” said Chieko Noguchi, spokeswoman the Archdiocese of Washington.

“They brought the Manifesting the Kingdom Awards with them, which provided an opportunity for a brief visit and an occasion for the cardinal to thank them for the beautiful work they did,” Noguchi said.

“The award itself has, as its purpose, the singling out of people whose dedicated service is a manifestation of the kingdom of God among us. The Etched in Glass shop created the award that is a beautiful remembrance and keepsake.”

George Masche, who has a master's degree in nuclear engineering, opened the first Etched in Glass shop in 1993 opposite Kepple's Garage on Saxonburg Boulevard in Indiana Township.

“My wife and I started out looking for something to do,” he said.

Masche started their unique business after he quit his corporate job, attended an entrepreneurs' show at Monroeville Mall and saw a glass-etching demonstration.

“This is our 20th year,” he said. “We don't have any competition in Pittsburgh.”

“We got in at just the right time,” Masche said. “A new process for making stencils had just been developed.”

Etched in Glass annually handles about 4,000 orders for single to multiple etched glass pieces from customers ranging from the Oakmont Country Club and the Pennsylvania Trappers Association to the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming and Wigle Whiskey.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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