By Derek M. Otto
In the fall, I wrote an article about the Bicentennial of the First Presbyterian Church in Springville. Shortly after that article was released, Ms. Patricia Piehl of the church’s bicentennial committee asked about the history of the windows. That I did not know. I did know of someone who had knowledge of stained glass, Jacqueline Wilcox and her mother, Jean Maul.
Little did I know that they had already started work on a commemorative piece for the church. They had been given some broken pieces of a former window and reworked them in honor of the bicentennial. Though, I was little help to Ms. Piehl; with Holy Week approaching, stained glass made by craftspeople here in our own community is a good topic.
I asked Jacqueline and her mother some questions about their craft. Just how did they get started with stained glass?
For Jacqueline, it was divinely inspired. “I believe it was around mid-2013 when God put it in my heart to pursue learning how to make stained glass. It really happened out of the blue,” she explained. “So I ordered select pieces of equipment (as finances allowed) and picked up a few sheets of glass to get started.
My mom stopped in to visit when I was unpacking everything and asked what all of the stuff was for. When I told her I was going to try making some stained glass pieces, she said she wanted to be a part of it. We’ve been learning, designing, and creating together ever since.”
Some people will dabble with a craft for awhile before they feel comfortable, but as Jacqueline said, they started, “Immediately! Initially, it was just for Christmas and birthday presents for friends and family. Then the Concord Mercantile offered to let us sell our pieces there. Word quickly spread and all of a sudden we started receiving phone calls to do repairs and offers to participate in craft shows.”
According to Jean, “Jackie decided we needed a name for our endeavor. At that time, we didn’t think of it as a business. She came up with QTSG, which stands for Quality Time Stained Glass. The ‘Quality Time’ was us, mom and daughter, working together.”
Jean further explained, “We started out doing small pieces, but as we got more confident in our work, we expanded into larger pieces.”
Did they need special training? Jacqueline said, “No, I am self-taught. It started with finding videos online showing the basics. Then I’ve expanded my knowledge from there.”
Jean said that “with her artistic abilities, Jackie was a good teacher, and it didn’t take long to learn the art of making stained glass pieces.”
In the few years that they have been doing the craft, Jacqueline said that they have made thousands of pieces.
As she referred to the inspiration and creative outlet, Jacqueline asked herself, “What would we like to make to decorate our own homes that we can’t find anywhere else?”
She continued, “Then, once we started purchasing more types and colors of glass, the glass itself became another source of inspiration. The textures, the colors, the striations…you can just look at a particular piece of glass and see the ocean, wood, fire, flowers, greenery, the sky. The possibilities are endless! Every day I see things around me that I ponder how to translate into glass.”
Jean commented on the making of multiple pieces. “We started out making maybe two to four of one piece, but when the orders started coming in for multiple orders for the one item, we had to start making anywhere from eight to 10 of each in order to keep stock on hand,” she said. “We both are constantly coming up with new ideas, and we try to put a new item out every week if possible.”
QTSG makes a whole list of quality stained glass items: sun-catchers, ornaments, Christmas tree toppers, lamps, nightlights, wall décor, candle holders, business card holders, large and small panels, window and door inserts, decorative window corners, food-safe wedding cake toppers, trinket boxes and much more.
Food safe wedding cake toppers? “Yes that’s right. The wedding toppers are made out of glass and soldering, but are designed to be safe around food,” explained Jacqueline. “We have made hearts and a bridal couple.”
Jean boasted, “I think we are now at the point that we can do just about anything if we can find the right glass and Jackie can create the right pattern for a project.”
According to Jacqueline, “For a custom piece, first we need to know what specifically a person is looking for, subject-wise. Then we need to know what size they want the piece to be. And it helps to know what their target budget is as well. Then I will design a pattern (or two), to determine if they like it, modify it as desired, and ultimately, determine if we can make it within their budget or not.” Jean noted. “We’ve had several orders from customers who want their pets done. So we have them send us a picture, then we try to match colors and the pattern of the pets coat to make it look as close to the pet as we can.”
I asked about the largest piece they had ever created. Jacqueline knows it was a mural of a rolling hill motif for Dr. Robert Moynihan of the Boston Hills Dental Group. Jean believes that a project in Olean was just as big.
A true test of their skill is that fact that they can repair other craftspeople’s work.
Jacqueline said, “We do repairs. But, due to equipment limitations, we currently cannot repair glass that is curved. We have repaired Tiffany-style lampshades, broken sun-catchers, cracked cabinet windows, a broken stained glass plant holder, and a large original window from a 1902 Victorian house, just to name a few.”
The duo also makes an effort to use American-made materials whenever possible.
“From the glass itself to the copper tape, solder, embellishments, vinyl, suction cups, ribbon, packing materials, and anything else included in the process, we try our very best to use materials that are made in the USA,” they said. “We will only use foreign elements if we absolutely cannot find equivalent American-made elements. Yes, we can proudly say that every piece is MADE IN AMERICA!”
For more information, check out Quality Time Stained Glass – QTSG on Facebook.