For 35 years, Nancy Vocature has created beautiful works of stained glass art.
“A minor bout with postpartum blues following the birth of my last child led me to respond to a mailer offering stained glass lessons,” she said.
Two years ago, some friends asked for lessons, so her husband turned the loft over their garage into a stained glass studio.
“We had two lessons, and then COVID-19 shut us down,” recalled Vocature.
However, class member Belinda Cron was eager to continue the work they’d started, and the studio afforded enough space for social distancing. They decided to meet every Thursday.
“Our productivity kicked into high gear,” Vocature said. “We produced five patio tables, numerous sun catchers and a large stained glass window.”
The 20-by-24-inch window featuring colorful birds often seen in her Peone Prairie backyard is Vocature’s latest completion. It took her eight months to finish.
“I wanted a bigger project to work on while Belinda was learning.”
Cron had never worked with stained glass, but she had quilted and saw a similarity.
“Like quilting, you put bits and pieces together to make something beautiful,” she said. “It’s fun! The first patio table I made was a wedding present for my daughter.”
She held up one of her latest pieces, a sun catcher featuring a dove, which employs blue and yellow – the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
On the large work table in the studio, small squares of colored glass are ready to cut, and two boxes filled with pieces of colored glass wait nearby.
Quilters have their scrap bags; stained glass artists have their scrap boxes.
“I used nothing but scraps for my huckleberry patio table in the gazebo,” said Vocature. “Locally, Hobby Lobby is the only place to buy glass.”
Her current project, a series of Christmas bells for an upcoming craft sale was laid out on the table. She picked up her cutter and scored a curved section for a bell, and then using breaking pliers, she carefully separated the section from the sheet of glass. Next, she smoothed the edges on a nearby polisher. Each bell takes four hours to complete.
Gloves and safety glasses are a must in the workshop.
“People are afraid the first time they cut glass because their mothers told them it was dangerous,” Vocature said, smiling.
She uses several techniques to create stained glass art. For the bells, she uses copper foil. The glass is cut into a pattern and then wrapped around the edges with a sticky copper tape. The tape is then covered with a bead of solder that then has a patina applied to it before being polished.
The glass is cut to a pattern and lead came is used to join the pieces together. It usually comes in 6 -foot lengths that can be cut to size and bent around the glass.
Vocature pointed to a birdbath with an ivy-patterned stained glass top that she converted into a patio table.
“I used grouting for this,” she said. “It’s the easiest technique.”
She explained that pieces of glass are bonded to a glass base and grout fills the gaps in between.
Her studio exhibits many examples of the ways her creativity blossomed during COVID.
“Making beauty is therapeutic,” Vocature said. “You feel like you’ve done something with your time.”
And seeing projects evolve from idea to pattern, to completion is its own reward.
“Because I spent my career as a high school English teacher, this hobby is a perfect fit. Teachers don’t often get to see the finished product, but glass crafters have wonderful things to enjoy,” she said.
Cron and Vocature value the connection they formed during the pandemic.
“I’ve had such a good time, especially during the pandemic when I couldn’t see anyone face to face,” said Cron. “It was so nice to have a human being to talk to.”
“The friendship we got to develop was a blessing.”