WINTHROP - Winthrop resident Jamie Schmidt has found something to be passionate about in life - she enjoys spending her free time making stained glass works of art for people.
"I think it's a lot of fun," said Schmidt, "I really enjoy it."
She was working at Minnesota New Country School when she met Dee Thomas who does stained glass work at a shop called Henderson Classical Glass.
This is a large stained glass window that Schmidt completed as a commissioned piece.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Some of the tools Schmidt uses include: paper (with a pattern she draws freehand), a soldering iron, diamond ring saw, grinder, glass cutters, and rulers. This is a musical design she has come up with in her studio. The center of the design features fused glass pieces. Schmidt keeps an ongoing journal of the photos and her own writing about the pieces that she has done through the years. Her journal is pictured on the table at the left of this photo.
This is a coffee-inspired stained glass design by Schmidt. At the bottom of the piece there is a real coffee cup in the design.
This is one of the designs in a wheat pattern that Schmidt has done as a commissioned piece.
"She (Thomas) was always working on different things ... so I just asked her about it," said Schmidt, "She said she was doing a small wedding gift."
Schmidt told Thomas she also needed a wedding gift soon, and asked Thomas to make a gift for her.
Thomas told her, "No, but you can make your own."
So Thomas showed her how to make the piece. Schmidt gave that first piece as a wedding gift.
Thus, her first endeavor in making stained glass took place approximately 13 years ago.
"But then as time went on, I was looking for a hobby and then I remembered I like stained glass and really enjoyed doing that," said Schmidt.
Her oldest son, who is a computer major, went online and found her a beginner's stained glass kit. He gave her the kit as a Christmas gift.
"Now I have no excuse," said Schmidt.
About five years she convinced several ladies from her full-time work at Hutchinson Medical Center to take a stained glass class from Thomas.
"But, I guess I was probably the most interested ... so I've been doing it ever since," said Schmidt, "One of the girls still does some; one of the girls gave all of her (stained glass) stuff to me, and the other girl is kind of interested - but not that much."
Once Schmidt moved to Winthrop from Gaylord she was contacted by Marlys Woods, who is the owner of Sisters Coffee House in Winthrop. Woods asked her if she wanted to sell her stained glass work at the coffee shop.
"I started hanging it to sell and then I have to make something else to replace it," said Schmidt, "Then people found out about me and started commissioning me for projects."
Her first commissioned project was for a transom window at a Hardware Hank store in Gaylord.
Another project was done for Messner Builders Inc. in Winthrop. When that stained glass piece was being installed it was broken, said Schmidt.
"Glass is breakable ... so I had to learn how to repair," said Schmidt, "You'd rather start from scratch then try to repair something."
Her glass work also includes etching pieces. The etching can be incorporated into the stained glass designs.
The amount of time she spends on the different projects she does varies with each piece. She uses a copper foiling process when working with the glass.
"See, I don't like to think about the time ... because it would be like 50 cents an hour," said Schmidt, "So, I just do it mostly for enjoyment. A lot of people seem to enjoy it (her work)."
She has given away (as gifts) and also sold about 25 pieces since she first started doing stained glass work.
Schmidt has been commissioned to do stained glass pieces for home interiors.
"I get a lot of energy from creativity," said Schmidt, "It's interesting how something will just all of a sudden strike me and then I have an idea."