Recently, I came across the magnificent stained glass panels by Retta, of RettaGlass. After looking at all of her work, I decided I needed to know more about the artist, so we did a (virtual) interview. Thank you, Retta, for making such beautiful work, and for making yourself so available!
Q. How did you get started working with glass? How long have you been at it?
A. I starting in stained glass because I loved antiques. My husband, my new baby, and I had just moved into our first house and I had some pretty cool windows that I thought needed some stained glass. When I found out I couldn’t afford the cost, I thought I could DIY. About 40 years before it was trending. So I signed myself up to take a Park District “how to” class in beginning stained glass. The following year, I was teaching the “how to” class. It was an art that just clicked.
Q. Was stained glass always your medium, or have you explored other arts?
A. My grandmother was an artist so I was able to explore many different mediums of artwork throughout my life. My mother and grandmother [also] taught me how to embroider.
Q. Your combinations of glass pieces of very different scale, shape, type, and age make for very interesting works of art. How do you find your varied glass materials?
A. My grandmother and mother both had Depression glass dishes that I inherited. The amount of dishes was overwhelming but all of it was gorgeous. I decided to empty the cabinets that they were sitting in being unused and experimented with putting them in my artwork. I did fine some of the dishes couldn’t withstand the heat of the soldering iron and just shattered. There are quite a few that worked beautifully, however.
Q. Do you get an idea for a design, then go looking for the materials, or does the inspiration start with the glass?
A. Usually, I start with a focal point, like a dish or rondel then start hand cutting the glass around that focal point. I match and us glass that compliment the dish or rondel. Using textured glass is the first thing I take into consideration when I put a piece together. Texture makes a piece more interesting and gives it depth. To make more texture, I decorative solder dishes and glass gems. I form small round balls of solder to give the window the look of fine jewelry.
Q. If you were going to pursue something other than glass, what would that be?
A. I plan on doing glass indefinitely. My full-time job for 40+ years was a music education teacher. I taught in various school districts with a BA in Music. I ended and retired from teaching and am a full-time artist now selling my artwork at shows and online.