Forty years ago (this is Jay speaking), I mused aloud that creating stained glass ornaments might be a fun hobby “after I retire.” Mary Ann, who thought I already needed a hobby, gave me tools and scrap glass and pointed out where I could play with them in our Chicago apartment. Within a couple years we moved to South Dakota and a house which happened to have an extra garage.
Within a few years I turned the second garage into a glass studio with a large work table.
One big influence on my transition from hobbyist to window-maker was a serendipitous purchase. An enterprising young brother-in-law sold me several boxes of scrap glass he had been paid to clean out of a monastery barn. Not many pieces were more than two feet square, but it was all German mouth-blown glass, more beautiful than anything I had been using. I sorted through the gorgeous scrap to mak
e windows for our bathroom and after installation literally saw life differently. Seeing what was possible with artisan-made glass inspired Mary Ann to work with me.
I learned the basics about how to cut glass, lead, solder, and finish windows from books and by seeking out masters of the trade. We visited old line Minnesota studios and attended Stained Glass Association of America conferences, whose members taught me a lot. The rest came from experience.
Creative genes were passed down from my mother’s side of the family, yet designing for glass is part inspiration and part experiential learning. Mouth-blown (“antique”) and hand-poured glass offer wonderful texture and dynamism. I also think about what lies beyond the plane of the window. Whether working with an architectural opening or
creating an autonomous panel, I consider how the view and the light, which changes with the hours and seasons, will interact with the stained glass. My goal in any design is to bring together light, motion, and color to change the environment, to make life more beautiful.
I find great joy in both the art and the craft of stained glass. The glass cutter becomes an extension of my being; I become one with the glass–we breathe together: scoring, breaking, leading, soldering, cementing, cleaning.
Jay now fabricates all windows, art panels, mirrors, lamps, light vessels, and anything else leaded or foiled that either of us designs. (Mary Ann is speaking now.) Jay likes to cut glass and is technically very skilled so after we moved to Pennsylvania I left that to him and focused on designing. Together we talk over ideas and decide which one will design a project. While our styles are different, we both strive to convey glass’ liveliness and sensuality. It was, after all, born in fire. The finished piece should bathe its users in transformed light. People who commission a stained glass piece are buying atmo
sphere and experience, not merely something to look at. My distinctive style echoes natural shapes, plays with interlacing lead-lines, and flows color and texture abstractly through the design.
Our most recent passion is fusing and slumping glass–assembling flat glass and frit (ground glass), melting it together and forming it in a kiln. We both enjoy the direct method of working, an ability to achieve painterly effects in the fused glass, and the creation of beautiful items for everyday use.
What we love shows in our glass, whether it is leaded, foiled, or fused.
Paulukonis Studio can be reached at
|570-585-2096 or firstname.lastname@example.org|
and visit their website at www.paulukonisstudio.com