When I receive my assignments, I never know quite what to expect. Which means I’m always in for an incredible new experience with each and every one. For some of my interviews I have the honour of hearing some personal stories, and it’s from there I draw much of my inspiration for the way in which I deliver my words to you, the reader. One such story revolved around a stained-glass piece of artwork that had been created for a family who had lost a loved one, and that story has stayed with me ever since. The featured piece, the beautiful “Sunflower Mosaic” was created by Bill Adler, artist and owner of Glasscraft in downtown Orangeville, ON.
Bill Adler and the Glasscraft name are well known throughout Ontario, all of Canada, and on the international stage as well. “We’ve had work shipped to places like Texas, and even Japan, really all over the world” says Bill. It’s pretty easy to see why his work is in demand, as we sit in Bill’s workspace and have a peek at all the incredibly beautiful pieces that he and his team are working on. There’s also the finished pieces displayed for sale in a lovely store that’s completely adorned with beautiful glass artwork, all shining and glowing in different ways.
When you see how talented Bill and his team are, it comes as no surprise to learn that Bill attended the Ontario College of Art (OCA) in the 1960’s (now known as Ontario College of Art and Design) but he didn’t remain in the art profession for long. “I worked in an art studio for about a year” says Bill, “but I wasn’t selling anything so I decided to go back to school. I went to the University of Guelph and earned my Honours B.A, then obtained my Master’s Degree in Psychology at Guelph as well. I then went to work as an instructor to teach for the Department of Social Services in Toronto.” Soon after, Bill decided he wanted to get his teaching degree, so that’s exactly what he did. Bill was then offered a teaching role at Shelburne High School for some years, and then transferred to teach Orangeville District Secondary School teaching art and retired in 2002.
The artistic focus on stained glass came as a result of Bill being asked by a friend to do a piece for him personally. Bill was teaching a night school course on stained glass, and decided, along with his wife Mae and a 3rd partner, to open a store so his students would have a place to work on their projects. One year later the partner left, and the business has been run by Bill and Mae ever since.
“With stained glass, you have to really love the craft” says Bill. “It’s a time-consuming art, and very labour intensive.” Bill should know, as during the interview I see that Bill is busy hand-sketching a new project for a church window. Old school, pencil to paper, no fancy computers or cameras … just pure artistry and you can see it everywhere you look in the store.
I asked Bill, “What’s kept stained glass as your chosen medium?” He answered, “Stained glass is very much like water colour, it handles light in various different ways, it’s more ‘alive’ than some other forms of art. Throughout different times of the day, you can see something different in the glass every time you look at it. That’s what I mean by it being alive.”
Stained glass artwork quite often becomes that piece that stands the test of time. A stained-glass window, when professionally crafted and installed, will remain there for years and years. These pieces often create part of the building’s history and can become very personal. The talented team at Glasscraft can create just about anything you could imagine, out of glass. Patio stones, lamps, murals, windows… the list goes on. You’re in for a really special experience when you walk through the door of this incredible space. The beauty of the glass springs to life, and you could spend hours just taking it all in, or even better, watching Bill and his team at work.
Much like I was inspired by the glass mosaic of that special sunflower, you too will be enchanted by the stunning pieces of artwork. Stained glass seems to not only preserve time and space, but honours those memories of love, peace, and simple sweetness.
Written By: Kelli M. Maddocks | Photography: Cory Bruyea | Resources: Glasscraft, Orangeville