By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN From blue-winged fairies to glittering kaleidoscopes, Winsted’s Jackie Lueck can take a sheet of glass and transform it into just about anything.
“So many things can be done with stained glass much more than I initially thought,” Lueck said. “There are hundreds of styles of glass, with hundreds of different textures.”
It could be a garden scene to hang in a window, a baptismal cross personalized with name and date, or a delicate butterfly to decorate a flower bouquet whatever her customers dream up, Lueck loves to make.
“Seventy percent of what I do is custom work,” she said.
Lueck’s business, Zephrym Glass, originally began as a hobby. She learned the fundamentals of stained glass creation from her boyfriend, Josh Imholtz, whose mother, Patty Holloman of New Germany, had been an expert in the business for several years.
As Lueck’s passion grew, she began making pieces for friends and family.
Then, when people saw her stained glass Christmas ornaments last winter, order requests started pouring in.
“That’s what really got me started,” Lueck said.
In honor of Zephrym
She decided to make her business official, naming it in memory of her infant son, Zephrym, who passed away in July 2012. Zephrym didn’t make it to full term due to anencephaly, a neural tube defect in which part of the skull is open.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my entire life,” said Lueck, a 2003 graduate of Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School.
She and Josh have been together eight years, and their other children include Cullen, 7; River, 6; and Shepard, 5.
Although the kids are still too young to cut stained glass, they love helping Lueck pick out sand colors and seashells for her glass pyramid seascapes.
Stained glass steps
Lueck works out of a shop in her home, with separate areas for each stage of stained glass creation.
The process starts with a paper pattern, which Lueck often makes by hand. Using a clear table with fluorescent lights underneath, she traces the pattern onto a sheet of glass.
From there, Lueck takes the glass to her cutting area, and uses special tools to score and break the glass in the desired locations. Careful attention is given to the texture direction in the glass, making sure the cuts are in sync with the overall appearance.
The smooth edges are then made rougher using a diamond bit grinder.
After all the pieces are ready, Lueck wraps copper foil around the perimeter of each one and crimps it. The most important step soldering is next. Soldering binds the glass together while giving the edges a silver coloring.
A few finishing touches are then applied (such as washing, polishing, and possibly adding hooks for hanging), and the art is ready for display.
“It’s really relaxing it doesn’t feel like work,” Lueck said.
Whether they’re for a shelf, flowerpot, wall, Christmas tree, or window, Lueck’s designs can be customized for any room in a home.
“The darker glass is really beautiful in a window,” she said.
Offices can also benefit, with stained glass business card holders and paperweights.
A gallery of Lueck’s work can be viewed on her Facebook page. Items are available for purchase on Etsy, or by contacting Lueck directly at email@example.com.