It’s hard to believe that Stephanie Rogers stumbled upon this trade by accident.
Rogers, 58, was dragged to a stained glass night school course by her sister-in-law in the mid 70s. Since that first workshop, she’s never looked back.
“I love doing what I do,” she said. “I love creating custom pieces of stained glass, and sand blasting glass for people because they get to enjoy it their whole life.”
After completing her night course, Rogers started making custom designed stained glass windows in a studio in Ottawa. For her, it was a skill that came naturally.
It wasn’t until 1991 that she opened Stephanie’s Glass and Art Studio in Fernie. And with 35 years of experience, Rogers has established herself as an artist in this small British Columbia community.
But creating stained glass is an art of its own kind.
“People say, ‘oh you’re such a good artist,’ and I’m not,” she said. “Designing for stained glass is different than doing a drawing.”
Rogers may not consider her work ‘art’ in the painting a portrait sense, but her customers are still willing to travel hundreds of miles and spend thousands of dollars on her custom made designs.
She regularly works with clients from Southern Alberta, Calgary, Banff, Cranbrook, and Golden.
Rogers said that most of her work features landscape designs. In fact, a lot of her work incorporates the Fernie mountains.
“Fernie is an amazing place to live,” Rogers said. “There are times when I’ve had to pull off the road driving, it’s just so beautiful.”
And just like the shadows on the mountains, Rogers work is constantly changing.
“It isn’t static,” she said. “I like the way that it changes with the different light and different times of day, and different weather.”
Each custom made piece takes about a month to complete, but Rogers says that she has spent as long as 150 hours on one piece.
And even with decades of experience, things don’t always go according to plan.
After 10 years of designing stained glass windows, Rogers began creating custom sandblasted work, and the sandblasting process can be a dangerous task.
Rogers has to wear coveralls, safety glasses, earmuffs and a respirator when she’s sandblasting bigger items. But even with safety equipment, the dust from sandblasting still gets blown into the air, she said.
If the dust hasn’t settled, flakes of glass can get stuck in your eye. Rogers said she’s had to go to the hospital two to three times to get the glass removed.
But despite the dangerous work and hours of dedication, she says she can’t imagine doing anything else. Designing stained glass pieces is something she shares with the community in more than one way.
Rogers hosts two workshops a year, and accepts three or four students in each class. She says she always enjoys seeing what her students have accomplished.
“It’s neat to see the different things different people will do,” she said. “I’m just so proud of them.”
And although she loves teaching others the craft of sandblasting and working with stained glass, Rogers says she has no plans to expand her workshop, especially if it would mean leaving Fernie.
“I can’t imagine living any place else and I can’t imagine not doing stained glass,” Rogers said. “Even if I won $10 million, I would still do what I do.”