Valerie Batt of Painted Light Stained Glass studio is this week’s artist in the “Omaha Is Gifted” holiday series. She creates a variety of cut glass pieces and specializes in custom leaded glass windows for homes and businesses.
She is one amongst hundreds of artists who call Omaha home. During this holiday season and beyond, remember them when searching for quality, unique gifts or that something special for your home.
On your website, your bio states you “caught the glass bug.” What happened?
After college in 1993, I moved to Tucson because I fell in love with the landscape. I worked at a small business as a receptionist and on the way to work each day would pass a stained glass studio that looked really interesting. One day I stopped in and discovered I could take a class from the artist. It quickly became my passion and I haven’t stopped working with glass. There was something about the glass and the whole process of window making that captivated me – and still does.
You create a lot of glass works — hanging windows, jewelry, sun catchers, lamps, etc. Was there an evolution in your work?
I started out making leaded windows and that’s my favorite method. When I learned how to use copperfoil technique – also called the Tiffany method – I started making suncatchers and three dimensional things. The latest technique I’ve discovered is fusing photographs into glass using photo fusing paper. Photography was my first passion in high school and years after, so combining the two art forms is like coming full circle.
Your custom windows are gorgeous and they reflect a breadth of styles. How much research goes into your designs?
I love the challenge of meeting with clients and coming up with a design just for them. I use a combination of client’s thoughts and desires, art books, Internet and photographs.
Do you have a favorite part of the process?
After the glass has been cut and shaped to fit each space, leading is by far my favorite part of the process. I love the quiet, methodical pace I get into when I’m leading piece by piece and I can see the window coming to life. I love the lead on my hands and how it connects me to the glass craftsman tradition of nearly a thousand years.
Are there points in the process that are especially nerve wracking for you?
Cutting expensive mouth blown glass when I know I have only limited glass and can’t mess up. My adrenaline spikes and I shake – still after nearly 20 years of glass cutting. Second would be installing big windows.
Where in Omaha — aside from your studio — can a person see examples of your work?
I’ve got an arched transom above the front door at Dietz United Methodist, a stained glass tree of life ark for the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home’s new chapel, a 10-foot-tall cross window at the Open Door Mission and two signs at the Nail Shop.
What’s the best way to care for a stained glass piece?
Stained glass windows need minimal care. I put a wax finish on my finished windows and buffing with a cotton cloth is all that’s really needed. Wax can be applied down the road to get the shine back. Just don’t use a lot of pressure.
Is there an ideal location for a stained glass window?
I think windows look beautiful with full sun or even with minimal light. That’s the great thing about glass – it looks different all the time depending on how much light is behind it or in front of it.
What’s it like being an artist in Omaha?
I feel like I’m in the best place to be an artist. The Hot Shops, where my studio is located, is so unique and a space that just is ripe for creativity and collaboration.
Is anyone in your family or friends become interested in stained glass because of you?
I’ve taught a lot of students throughout the years and one woman in particular has since moved to Texas, but just started her own stained glass business. Knowing that I’ve helped pass on the tradition is a great feeling.
Are there other artists we should check out?
I love Peter McGrain’s work. He’s a glass painter. I love how whimsical his works are and the detail of his painting.
What’s the largest piece you’ve created and what was that like to work on?
The stained glass ark I made for the Blumkin home was the largest. The leaded glass behind the ark doors was curved so I had to get a table made that was curved to build the window on. Leading while standing on a step stool was challenging!
Is there a color/style of glass to which you are always drawn?
Any kind of mouth blown glass. I love that no single piece is the same.
Where can people see your work/purchase it?
They can visit me in my shop at the Hot Shops, Studio #105, Monday-Friday, 9:30 am – 5:15 pm, and every other weekend or by appointment. I have an Etsy store and a website, www.paintedlightglass.com. (Editor’s note: You can also “like” her on Facebook.)
The smallest gift I sell starts at $15 up to a hanging stained glass window for $950.
What forms of payment do you accept?
Credit cards, checks and cash.
Do you ship?
Yes, I’ve shipped as far as Costa Rica.