November 6, 2008

Stained Glass Artist at The Olde Farmhouse

Good morning friends/readers, I've had several people email me wanting to see the pictures that were published with the recent news article describing my life at The Olde Farmhouse. I'll give you a couple of pictures and the article here. WARRENSBURG - While Wall Street has been busy looking at the economy through a glass darkly, the little stained glass business on Drummer Road remains a ray of sunshine. "Through the Looking Glass" is a one woman operation run by Laurie Beggin at her circa 1880 farmhouse in rural Warrensburg. She came to stained glass a little later in life, having had careers in everything from state politics to real estate, but she's a great believer in better late than never. And her timing in the stained glass business has turned out to be right on the money. She took lessons at the Glass House in Decatur in 2004 and had her business up and running by May 2007, proving to be a natural at the art. She offers everything from sun-catchers and elaborate windows of her own design to custom sign and glasswork for businesses and homeowners willing to pay for a touch of translucent elegance. She just got done with a 46-by-36-inch sign for the Style FX hair salon in Madison, Wis. The salon's name is picked out in flowing ruby red letters on a clear crinkle glass background that floats above a female head adorned with a dramatic up-do that is the salon's style signature. Work like this isn't cheap - Beggin charges $125 a square foot - but the result is a breath-taking statement that confers a touch of class amid all that hand-cut and soldered glass. "I was pretty amazed at what she was able to do for us," said Jaime Lee, an educator who works at the salon and commissioned the sign. "And it's really a one of a kind thing. I had a client in the other day who does stained glass work, and she also thought it was a really amazing piece. And while it looks great now, we also plan to have it backlit." Selling mainly through a Web site where she has acquired a growing reputation, Beggin also encounters customers who, while not perhaps saying right out her prices are cheap, consider them quite a bargain. "The standard for stained glass artists in the Chicago area is about $250 to $300 (a square foot) explained Beggin, 47. "And while I price myself for the market in the area where I live, what's happened is that customers in the larger cities have discovered my prices. And I can tell you the people who are making a lot of money are still spending that money on luxury items, and this is happening all over: I sell coast to coast and did a cafĂ© sign for a place in New York." Beggin isn't always quite sure what to make of all this, considering all those gloom and doom stories about many of her fellow Americans being down to their last buck. But her business does offer an unusual window into other parts of the economy where those with means and taste are willing and able to buy something that will be a joy forever. Perhaps, like Beggin, they've become hooked on the interplay of light, color and glass and want to bring a slice of it into their home or business. The artist discovered the joy of glass while walking to school in Freeport and passing an unusual house with walls covered in colored glass mosaic that became a twinkling drama as the wide-eyed grade school kid wandered by. Later, working as a legislative assistant in the Wisconsin State Capital building, her senses were seduced by its acres of imposing stained glass windows and tile mosaics. But it was not until she moved to her present home with the job transfer of her husband, Joseph, a chemical engineer at Archer Daniels Midland Co., that Beggin discovered she could also create art in glass herself. First, however, came a six year stint selling real estate before a devastating bout with lupus left her marooned in splendid isolation in her home set amid 2½ acres of land and the gorgeous gardens she has created. "But I couldn't just quit working, I needed to do something," she recalled. Happily, she had discovered the Glass House, which she still consults for technical advice, and the latent talent lurking in her own fingertips. She also honed her skills by plowing through a ton of books on the technique of creating pictures and designs in glass, an art form that dates back beyond the 7th century. She now shares the joy of what she does, along with the triumphs and tribulations of everyday living and working, through a blog. The effect of this is that many people who go on to become customers meet her first as readers who get chatting via e-mail and then realize, with prices of some of her smaller noncustom pieces starting at $35, that there's a sliver of stained glass out there for everybody. "My blog is about the life of a stained glass artist in the country," she said. "And people really seem to like it." Writing can also be a welcome break from glasswork, which is punishing. Some of her bigger commissions might involve more than 300 pieces of glass in up to 10 colors. All cut to shape, ground and finished by hand, their edges coated with burnished copper foil and then painstakingly soldered together using a technique pioneered by Louis Comfort Tiffany. If she's feeling good, she'll start her labors at 4 a.m. in the home workshop and go at it maybe four hours at a stretch before her tired hands get to aching too much. "That salon sign I did, it took two days just to solder it all together," she says. "And the total time to build it was four months." The reward is a nice check, a happy customer and the feeling that comes from creating something beautiful that, with care, will be around long after the artist herself is dust. "I had one man post a comment on my blog saying that, he doesn't know why, but every time he sees stained glass it calms him down," said Beggin. "I think there is some kind of spiritual, emotional draw to it, and maybe that's why they put it in all those churches. I'm in love with it." treid@herald-review.com421-7977


Anonymous November 6, 2008 at 11:12 AM  

What an absolutely outstanding writeup on a TRULY gifted artist! I'm forever proud to be the owner of a few of your remarkable pieces Laurie - thank you!

Kristen Andrews November 6, 2008 at 2:59 PM  

that is amazing!

Pam Hawk November 6, 2008 at 3:47 PM  

Oh hooray!!

Whoo hoo!!!!

(Don't forget to send a link of this news article to the Etsy Press Club, too!)

After this positively inspiring, feel-good story about the glimmer of light, hope, and beauty you create in people's lives, I am positive it will bring in a LOT more business for you.

Laurie B. November 6, 2008 at 3:55 PM  

And YOU deserve a huge kudos Pam for your undying support! Could not have come this far without you!

Denise November 6, 2008 at 9:26 PM  

I'm glad you finally put the photos on your blog. I went to the newspaper link and it did not come up with the pics! Anyway, the article was great and so are the photos!
Thank you for sharing them! :)
Great job.

Scary Mommy November 9, 2008 at 3:19 PM  

OH, how AMAZING!!!! Yay for you!!

Pam Hawk February 24, 2009 at 9:38 PM  

I'll be blogging about this in my marketing blog in March '09 and have a question for you: Do you know if your name or any of your info is on this piece at the salon? I'm just wondering if it's doing any advertising for you.

You can reply here or shoot me an email...


Pam Hawk February 24, 2009 at 9:43 PM  

Oh - and can I use the nespaper photo of you from this post? (You don't have to publish this comment...) Thanx!


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"All images and content of Laurie Beggin's Glass Musings and Through The Looking Glass © 2007 Laurie Beggin, unless otherwise noted."