Just outside of downtown Hartford in Washington county, a weekly workshop is underway.
“Most of the people they’re trying to make something for their house. They’ve always seen it, always thought it would be neat to try and make it themselves,” says Bob Wilhelm the Owner of Hen Picked Antiques.
Wilhelm started dabbling in stained glass repairs and creations about 20 years ago, but recently his hobby turned into a passion project that he wanted to share with others.
“Nobody thinks about where it comes from or what people put into it. And if there isn’t some crazy people like me to preserve some of this stuff, in the future generations I just don’t think it’s going to be around," says Wilhelm.
His students have been learning the tricks to the trade for about a year now, and their teacher’s passion has clearly reflected onto them.
“Now that I’ve done it for a year I can’t see not doing it,” says Patricia Linehan a student of Wilhelm's.
In just a year Patricia has pieced together two full sized windows and a handful of sun catchers and pendants too. Many of which she says were gifted to loved ones.
“Christmas was like stained glass-palloza. Everybody gets stained glass. You get stained glass, you get stained glass, I was like Oprah,” jokes Linehan.
And when you’re piecing together something from the heart, there is something special to be said about these pieces of glass tucked next to one another that have been created more or less the same, for centuries.
Wilhelm says it's a process that you get faster at each time, which each delicate placement of your pieces, “putting them together by hand, cutting them by hand and repairing them by hand is still the only wat that it’s done.”
The building where the projects are completed is interesting too. After all what better of a place to host a stained glass workshop, than a church built in 1853 that’s full of stained glass itself.
“We bought and restored the church with the idea of doing stained glass and antiques all under one roof and we though what a cool place to do it,” says Wilhelm.
So if your looking for a hobby as old as the colorful panes of glass that grace First Congressional Church in Hartford, or just the opportunity to let your inner artist out, look no further. A stained glass workshop like this one might be the answer to let your creative side flow. And who knows, how many eyes and beams of light will reflect on your creation in the years that follow.
“It could be around for another 100 years or who knows how much longer,” adds Wilhelm.