We recently spoke with artist Laura Goff about her innovative stained glass designs, and being an entrepreneur.
What experiences inspired you to become a stained glass artist?
My love of stained glass started in childhood. My grandmother would put colored water in jars. She’d place the jars around the house where they’d catch the light of the afternoon sun, creating patterned images on the walls and floor. That was her stained glass.
The power of art amazed me. Art was not just pretty; it molded the soul of life. I chose to study art history at the University of Tennessee, then had the opportunity to study in Europe, where I fell in love with stained glass. The rudimentary, simple stained glass that I had seen in rural East Tennessee was nothing compared to the stained glass in Europe. I knew I had found my life’s calling.
Tell us about the different techniques you use and the results you achieve?
There is a product called flashed glass which has a thin layer of color over a thicker layer of clear glass. I like to sandblast off the color which results in a white image in a field of color. But getting flashed glass is expensive and difficult. Plus, some of the colors that I want are not readily available. I create my own flashed glass. I paint on colored or clear glass, then fire each layer of paint in a kiln. I sandblast off the color in certain areas. The Air Force logo was created with this technique.
Sometimes I leave a little color in the sandblasted areas to add depth as in the dogwood blossoms.
I will also paint and fire more details in the sandblasted area like the daisy and leaves. This technique has opened up a lot of new creative areas.
What is your current direction?
I started making and repairing stained glass windows in 1986. I specialized in creating church windows throughout the Southeast. It was challenging work. But, now, I no longer want to limit my work to the prescribed tenets of the Evangelical realm.
I want to be creative, truly creative. I thought, why not expand my work to anyone and every-man? How do I reach every-man? How does one open the eyes and mind to a medium based in religious history?
Inspiration for a new, unique genre of stained glass windows came from an unlikely source: a motorcycle dealer that I drove past each day. My studio happened to be located on a road leading to Back Porch on the Creek, a music venue that was being built with the cooperation of the motorcycle dealer. This was good fortune for me, as 5000 concert-goers would walk past my studio to the concert entrance.
I decided to fill my exterior windows with displays that would allow me to feature motorcycle stained glass windows. The windows extend 12 feet and rise over six. A local woodworker made them into light boxes that are illuminated 24 hours a day. These windows are clearly visible from the road. After concerts, I hand out postcards as people leave the venue.