Fifth generation Californian Michele Drier has lived and worked all over the state. As a reporter and editor at daily newspapers, she won awards for investigative series. Her fifteen books include the Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries, The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, a series of paranormal romances, and The Stained Glass Murders. Today she turns her guest spot over to her newest creation, widow and stained glass artist Rosalind Duke. Learn more about Michele and her books here.
I blame it all on the university.
In my first year, I took a required Art History course and it left me with a hunger for Medieval art, specifically stained glass, and a BIG hunger for the TA, Winston Duke.
We married, I began a career as a stained glass artist, and now I’m a widow, living on the Oregon coast with Tut, my rescue Greyhound and an international reputation as a top stained glass artist.
Need a big commissioned piece for your home or business or church? You’re going to get a recommendation for me.
One of the things I cherish is my schedule. I don’t have one beyond what I take on for myself.
My day is taken up with routine things mixed with creativity. In a typical day, I take inventory of my glass and cames (the leading that holds the pieces of glass together).
There are a lot of colors I stock: three shades of blue, four shades of red, a couple of yellows, an assortment of purples (pale lavender to deep purple) and some brown/beiges. As I come up with a design, I search my glass dealers’ sites for offbeat colors.
Besides the large commissions, which make up the bulk of my work and income, I have a small business of selling stained glass kits to make at home. These contain the pattern, glass, caming, solder, a knife, a soldering iron and instructions. My catalogue includes reproductions of van Gogh’s Irises and Sunflowers, and I’m adding some from the coast where I’m living.
Today, I’m spending an hour on my deck sketching a design for a window that has a small piece of the ocean edged by forest and salmonberries, chosen because of their little, round shape that should look like Christmas ornaments shining beneath the trees. I have the design roughed out, it will be an oval, suitable for hanging in a window or inserting into a door. Now I have to search for the glass that will make up the berries. I found a dealer in Portland that has a nice reddish-orange tone, which should pop among the blues of the Pacific and the greens of the forest.
This afternoon, I’ll finalize the sketch, take photos to upload to my computer, and then project the best one against a white wall in my studio. Then I tape a large sheet of tracing paper over the design on the wall, trace it out and move it to my light table. Once it’s firmly taped down, I begin working out the color scheme and cutting the individual pieces of glass.
I don’t even know if they could take my fingerprints, I have so many small nicks and cuts from handling the glass and the knives. When all the pieces are cut, I tape the edges and smother them in bubble wrap, packaging them with enough caming to make the joins, with a good amount left over, and ship them off.
It’s a labor-intensive job and requires patience and a fairly steady hand, but it’s labor I love. It keeps me in touch with Winston’s spirit and ties me to a craft that added beauty and light to the world for more than 1,000 years.
Stain on the Soul
A Stained Glass Mystery
Who murdered Winston Duke? Why?
His widow, Rosalind (Roz) had no answers but to put her life back together, the internationally known stained glass artist moved to a small town on the Oregon coast. Here, where she knew no one, she planned to use the beach, scoured by wind and water, to cleanse her soul and rebuild her creativity. That is, until one morning when her peace was smashed by the lights and sirens of emergency vehicles, and the sight of her neighbor’s bloody body being taken away. Meeting others from the town, Roz is pulled into a mystery of who the neighbor was and finds a circle of friends far removed the Los Angeles of her life with Winston.