SHERIDAN — Since the mid-1990s, Paulette Kucera has been creating custom works of stained glass art from her studio in Sheridan under the business name PK Custom.
Kucera began her career in stained glass after taking a six-week educational art class at Wagner’s Art Supply. The hobby turned into a full-time career in 1990.
“The appeal for me was how light changes the glass,” said Kucera, about how the art class inspired her to pursue working with stained glass full time. “I can hardly wait to get it stuck together enough to pick it up and look through it and see what the light does to it and that has been ongoing for 20 plus years.”
Kucera primarily takes custom commissions and had also taught classes in previous years.
“I have my very first project still,” she said. “I used to do some teaching and my students of course were always hardest on themselves. When they would get frustrated with what they thought wasn’t going well, I showed them my first piece!”
Student frustrations aside, Kucera said the art form is actually not hard to learn, but practice and repetition is the key to creating consistently good work.
“For the pieced work, once you’ve built a piece, you’ve gone through all the steps and the rest is pretty much practice, so it is not a difficult process to learn,” she said. “It is more difficult to master the fit, to fit the pieces together. It is more practice, than difficulty learning how to do it.”
Kucera is now shifting from the traditional stained glass pieces she has been doing, to fused glass. Traditional stained glass, or pieced work, is often seen in church windows, and involves cutting and putting together dozens or even hundreds of pieces together to create a scene. The individual pieces are designed, cut, the edges wrapped in foil and then soldered together.
In contrast, fused glass is created in a kiln and pieces are super-heated to fuse them together.
“I am scaling back on stained glass work,” Kucera said. “Actually I am working on my last big commission. And when that is finished I will be doing pretty much the fusing work. Fused glass pieces are laid up (usually layered) in a kiln and heated up hot enough so they stick together or totally melt together. With the fused work, there are just more ways to manipulate the glass and when you open the kiln, you never truly know how it is going to come out. Sometimes it is not a pleasant surprise!”