Why Stained Glass?

Let me tell you why stained glass…When I was little, my brother would go “up north” (to northern MN) for a few weeks every Summer (well actually I don’t know how long it was, I was quite young and at that time Christmas vacation felt as long as Summer vacation, I do know it was more than a weekend). We had family friends who owned a thriving antique and stained glass business in northern MN. He always returned from his trip with some magical glass creation. I was envious and spent hours looking through the box of scrap glass he brought home, arranging the chards in interesting patterns and designs, hoping one day I too would be able to head “up north” and learn the craft of stained glass.

I never did get that chance (it’s ok, I got to do some just as amazing things in summer-various wilderness and sailing camps so I can’t complain). But that yearning to become a stained glass artist never went away.

In the 90’s I moved to Oregon and lived with my parents for awhile, went back to school and just tried to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life (although does anyone ever completely figure that one out?). One thing I knew was that I needed to get out and meet people! I took various community education classes and enjoyed them all. One Winter, I noticed there was a beginning stained glass class offered -I was so excited, I called that day and enrolled. In that class I learned the necessary skills and bought all the supplies…I was on my way. The bad thing was I really lacked the space for this new stained glass hobby. I used my parents garage, knowing some day they would want to park their car without fear of piercing the tires. I made a few small pieces as gifts, but that was it.

Over the years I have lived in very few places that had the room for my stained glass. So I just kept buying glass and accumulated a pretty extensive & beautiful collection.

In 2011, 6 moves, 20 years and 2 states after initially learning the art of stained glass, my husband and I bought a majestic 97 year old (amazing) house in Idaho. The unfinished basement was the ideal place for a stained glass studio. I loved working down there only to emerge a few hours later with a finished piece of art in hand!

Working on stained glass really brings a good dose of pure creativity and joy to my life and allows me to be far more inspired to do my day job as a Creative Director at Mayo Clinic. Below is my very first stained glass studio from that 97 year old house in Idaho (before starting a project, after it’s quite messy) complete with flamingos-my muse.

In 2016, I returned to MN; where my passion for stained glass first began. Our new home, although not a grand old 97 year old house, had the perfect space for a glass studio, complete with skylights for plenty of natural light and a separate entrance to the yard for that extra dose of natural inspiration (and ventilation) and even an old drafting table from Hormel (the people who make SPAM dontcha know).

Perhaps someday I’ll take a trip up north and visit those old family friends who first sparked my interest in stained glass and finally get the chance to make my own magical creation “up north”.

And that my blogesphere friends is why Stained Glass.
-Hilary