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The Arts in Oak Park

art glass

Light streams through geometric slices of glass making beautiful colors cascade down upon admirers. Stained glass has been a part of the arts for centuries, going through periods of popularity to almost extinction. Luckily, it has survived and become a vital part of the art scene today. Walking into a building filled with stained glass, one is inundated with beauty of many kinds. From colors galore, to detailed depictions within the work, one can only stand in admiration and appreciation. Where traditionally stained glass was utilized mostly for windows, it has been more recently used in smaller pieces.

To begin, stained glass was mostly seen in places of worship because religious groups were the primary purveyors of the art world. So it happened that a majority of the stained glass pieces were crafted depicting religious icons and scenes. It was not until later that stained glass moved into more secular places. Tonya Hart, Co-Owner of Two Fish Art Glass in Forest Park, noted that the stained glass of earlier periods was “awe inspiring,” very much like religion and spirituality can be portrayed.

While the art of stained glass may have had periods when it was not as prominent, it has surely made an impression on the world. Coming back full force, showcased in many ways, it is has been included in decorating homes and places of business. Hart commented, “It’s accessible by all kinds of economic backgrounds. You can choose to make it yourself, you can choose to do your house in stained glass, you can buy sun catchers.” Anyone can enjoy stained glass. According to Hart, the Midwest has a long-standing tradition with stained glass, becoming very popular in the region. This may be due to the fact that the influential Frank Lloyd Wright built his first residence in Oak Park. His Prairie Style home gets its name from its straight lines that mirror the landscape of the Midwest’s flat plains. While the simplistic lines reflect the landscape of this area, these homes beautify the landscape further with the exquisite stained glass accents that are incorporated into the design.

Bringing stained glass into a home can only add to its visual appeal and character. Hart believes, “There are two ways to look at it. Practically, you may not have such a nice view in a certain room in your home, so it’s a great way to beautify that room and make it a nice place for you to spend time in.”  She pointed out that stained glass can enhance the architecture and add value to a home. She also had some great ideas for ways in which someone can enhance their home with stained glass.

To open up a room and give it some color, Hart suggests that adding a stained glass pane to a wall as a sort of window can bring light and color into the space. An interior light screen can do the same with a light placed behind it, flirting color around a room. A stained glass fireplace screen makes for a unique option. With the light from the flames reflecting off and penetrating through the glass, the magnificence of the piece is enhanced by the multitude of ways the flames hit the colored glass. 

Looking to create a personal work of art? Two Fish Art Glass offers classes and workshops to make stained glass novices into masters. Start with a beginning stained glass course to become acquainted with the process, then move on to intermediate and advanced sessions. These higher-level classes are also great for those who have experience with stained glass and need a refresher course. The Two Fish Art Glass bead making class is a definite favorite. Cecilia Hardacker, co-owner of Two Fish Art Glass, is a “fantastic teacher,” boasted Hart. She observed that people sometimes come in and realize that creating a stained glass piece may not be as easy they first thought. The instructors are all eager to help students foster their skills. Hart mentioned that students of Two Fish Art Glass are many times overachievers, sometimes taking on endeavors more advanced than their current ability allows. However, when a project becomes difficult, skilled teachers use their expertise to help students through rough patches.

Stained Glass

Amateur stained glass artisans may struggle through a project while it sits on a panel, giving no real clue as to what it will look like upon completion. Once finished, the student will pick up their piece, holding it up to the light. They then realize that all the hard work and frustration that went into this venture was worth it, pleased with the finished product made from their own hands. Hardacker  “makes it challenging and exciting,” ensuring an enjoyable and satisfying experience. These classes are popular; so make sure to sign up quickly. Call (708)366-6800 or visit to sign up for the next one.

As tinted light streams over surroundings below, the true beauty of this medieval art form shows why it has sustained over the centuries. 

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