Coloring the World, One Piece at a Time

Posted: January 24, 2022

Stained glass creator sells beautiful art

older woman working on stained glass at a tableIn 1978, Renee Taylor’s older sister wanted to learn how to make stained glass, and Renee agreed to take classes with her. The sisters lived in Nevada, and they took about 10 classes to learn how to produce the beautiful pieces. Renee realized she loved the art, too, and had a talent for fashioning designs from the glass with its varied colors.

More than 40 years later, Renee still creates and sells stained glass pieces at the studio next door to her log cabin home on Hugh Allison Road in Pikeville. The studio resembles her home on a much smaller scale. She doesn’t stick to a schedule, but she’s in the studio most days. She starts as early as 7 a.m. and sometimes stays until 6 p.m.

“I tell people, if my car’s here, I’m open,” she says. “It’s not uncommon for people to drop in and browse. I have a lot of pieces, and they just want to see the stained glass.”

Honing Skills

Not long after Renee took those classes in Nevada, she moved to Florida. There, she met Clifford, the man she would marry. After the wedding, she started working in stained glass again and got involved with a studio that also taught patternmaking. With her artistic abilities, she quickly learned the techniques.

The couple settled near Rosemary Beach, between Panama City Beach and Destin. Her stained glass art business flourished there. She and Clifford enclosed a garage and turned it into a studio, and she got to work. “I made a couple of custom stained glass pieces and a few windows, and it just took off,” she says.

A network of pedestrian footpaths and boardwalks connect the neighborhoods in Rosemary Beach, and there are no highways or traffic. “You had to park and walk,” she says. “If you go there now, just about all the stained glass you see is my work.”

After several years, the work got to be too much and she scaled back. Meanwhile, their son’s job took him to Dunlap, and they came up to visit in 2005. They fell in love with the area and moved to Pikeville. “With the hurricanes, taxes and insurance, we decided we had enough of Florida,” Renee says.

They found a log cabin they loved and bought it. She brought her stained glass art business with her, and they built the studio next door.

Attention to Detail

Nowadays, Renee does a lot of custom orders. She sells quite a few of the dimensional dragonfly designs many people know her for, but she also creates pieces by request.

Recently, a customer asked her to make a hexagon-shaped piece with a mule deer design. With broadband internet through BTC Fiber, Renee was able to research the animal to help her create the piece. “I had to go online and find a mule deer so I could draw the pattern,” she says. Another customer wanted a design with a flamingo and palm trees. Again, she went online to find the best-looking bird as a guideline for creating her own unique pattern.

If she can find the pattern she needs in an internet search, she’ll buy it. But most of her works are from patterns she draws herself. One of her most complex designs featured a peacock on a full glass door. It took three months to make, and the creation contained more than 5,000 pieces of glass.

Her various designs are usually framed in oak strips, which Clifford builds. She creates windows and pieces that are ideal to hang in front of a window to catch the light. She also makes stained glass in cabinet doors. “There’s not much I can’t do,” she says.

Renee orders the stained glass sheets from a distributor in Atlanta and keeps just about every color on hand. She starts each design using two patterns. She cuts one up to use as a template to shape each individual piece of glass. She lays the second pattern on the table and arranges the cut pieces of glass on top of that pattern to see how it’s going to look.

She works from the bottom left corner, going up and out until she reaches the top right corner. “You can see if you need to change a piece of glass and use a different color,” she says. Once she gets the pieces of glass arranged, she cuts lead strips to outline each piece of glass and solders the joints together to connect them.

Some stained glass artists like copper foiling for holding the pieces of glass together, but Renee prefers to use lead. The pieces must fit snugly into the space, especially if it’s to be used as an exterior window. “It’s very tedious,” she says.

Her studio is at 890 Hugh Allison Road in Pikeville, just down the road from the popular Wooden’s Apple House. She says many of her customers find the studio after driving past the sign while headed to the apple orchard.

Renee goes to four stained glass shows a year, but aside from those scheduled dates, she’s usually at the studio. “I’m working just about every day,” she says.

Content provided with permission from BTC Fiber.