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Detwiler make mirrors for military service

Fran Brownell
Pratt Tribune
Pratt glass-etcher Chris Detwiler displays one of six Memorial Mirrors he is creating for Pratt American Legion Post 86 to commemorate military service of Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard veterans and POWs. When completed, the mirrors will be hung in the downstairs bar of Pratt American Legion Post 86 at 601 East Third Street.

Pratt American Legion Post 86 'Son' Chris Detwiler is putting his glass-etching skills to work to create six Memorial Mirrors honoring Pratt County veterans and prisoners of war.

“I’m doing mirrors to memorialize Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard veterans and POWs, starting with the Navy,” said Detwiler.

Each of the mirrors measure 38x42 inches and will be framed with dark-stained wood. The etched emblem of the service branch will be prominently displayed, surrounded by rows of rectangular blocks, representing memorial bricks.

The Navy mirror is a work-in-progress, with the emblem and 14 memorial bricks completed. Detwiler, who holds American Legion membership through his grandfather Charles Routte--a World War II Army veteran stationed in Iran as Persian Gulf Command--said the Memorial Mirrors will be displayed in the downstairs Legion Bar, when completed. Detwiler said he was introduced to the art of glass etching almost three decades ago by his father Ronald Detwiler.

“I was just starting my freshman year at Pratt High School in 1992 when Dad taught me about glass etching,” Detwiler said. “It’s become a passion.”

Detwiler said his mother, Patty Detwiler, loved all things Star Wars and one of his most meaningful etchings is a Hans Solo mirror he made for her three years ago.

“Mom died last year and her Hans Solo mirror was buried with her. She loved it so much,” Detwiler said.

Detwiler’s glass-etching works are also on display at both Pratt High School and Skyline High School, paying tribute to former graduates. Noting that techniques for the art of glass etching have been modernized since he learned the craft, Detwiler said he recently invested in an industrial-size vinyl cutter that allows him to complete a project in about half the time it took for past projects.

For the current project, Detwiler is assisted by his wife Jessica, who holds office as treasurer and membership chairman for Post 86 Auxiliary.

“Chris is very talented,” Jessica said. “He does really good work. I’m very proud of him.” During weekday work hours, Detwiler can be found at Best Western Comfort Inn where he does maintenance. But, nights and weekends, for at least a while, Detwiler will likely be found etching mirrors at Pratt American Legion and perhaps contemplating a new sideline career in glass etching.