Unique stained glass art


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I remember one holiday season I was looking for fun presents to give to my family. I wanted the search to be easy, unlike my search for that perfect “season’s greetings” card that had to please everyone on my list.

Then, I discovered Eagle River’s glass and gallery shop, Artworks. As I looked around, I knew there would be several items to please my purchasing palette. I was particularly amazed at the stained glass pieces hanging in the windows.

I had never seen stained glass work before with a three-dimensional feel to it. I asked the sales girl who made the whimsical pieces. After finding out it was artist Heidi Banach, I just knew at some point I’d want to talk in depth with her about her background and creativity. This seemed like the perfect time of the year to do so.

Heidi grew up in a very creative family where dancing, creating music or making things from scrap wood or fabric was the norm.

“My most specific art related moment happened when I was in third grade and a teacher told me I wasn’t coloring correctly … I disagreed,” Heidi said.

It was at age 20 when Heidi took a beginner stained glass class and became instantly hooked to the art form. She was originally drawn to traditional stained glass and architect/designer Frank Lloyd Wright designs. She soon realized straight lines and being symmetrical wasn’t her thing.

What Heidi loves about glass is how it can be beautiful in so many forms and applications. Unlike artists that work with hot glass, she mainly works with glass in its “cold/hard” form, which has a lot to say in how it wants to be manipulated.

In 2012, she did an art exhibit called, “Plays Well With Glass.” She almost named it “Does What the Glass Tells Her.”

Ideas run through her mind about 80 percent of the time. The inspiration for her ideas can range from objects, such as rocks, to a certain piece of glass.

“When I am working on an idea and eventually a piece, I think mainly about color, texture, form and balance,” Heidi said. “For a piece to feel harmonious to me, it has to have three of these elements.”

Although realism is not Heidi’s thing, once in a while she is inspired from nature and will do a somewhat whimsical funky flower or something “fishy.”

She does not work with a pattern. After she lays the first piece of glass down in her studio, she will start off with a general idea of what she will make and then lets the materials take her in a different direction.

Even though stained glass is a pretty flat medium, one of the things Heidi loves is texture. Over time, she’s figured out ways to add this element. This is the element I think makes her stand out from other stained glass artists.

“I really enjoy working with copper, so this has given me options of adding copper wire, tubing and sheet. I also like to use solder to create texture and dimension,” Heidi said.

Once she solders a piece, she knows if it requires a bit of embellishment or not. Each window is a mixture of what she has learned over time, a lot of fun and many times mistakes.

“What I most love about whatever I’m creating is seeing what it becomes,” Heidi said.

Art can be pleasing to the eye or not. It’s a very personal thing. All I know is I have pleased several members of my family with Heidi’s unique stained glass art.

For more information, visit www.artworksgalleryandglass.com.

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