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November 15, 2006
SMALL TOWN LIFE
Stained glass studio emerges in Boyden
HULL, Iowa (STPNS) -- He loves science, art and Boyden.
A job in science brought George Kraft to Boyden, and now he?s bringing his art to the town as well.
Kraft Stained Glass Studio was recently brought into being in Kraft?s home on Main Street in Boyden. Making stained glass windows is something he did 20 years ago and now he?s returning to the art.
To show potential buyers what he?s capable of, Kraft is making a stained glass window for the door into his studio. It?s a landscape, looking out to the ocean, complete with waves breaking near the shore. It also includes approximately 500 pieces of glass and took six weeks to create.
Cutting the glass is nearly finished and he?ll soon begin foiling each piece and then solder the pieces in the final step.
He hopes people notice that his style of stained glass is unique and his creations will be ?one of a kind?.
?My art background is in oil painting,? he explained. ?So I approach each window as I would painting on canvas and I have my own style.?
?Since I haven?t made the windows for many years, I will only improve over time,? he stated. ?People who order windows from me now are going to get a great value until my work becomes known.?
Creating a window involves more that putting pieces of glass together.
?First, I look at the structure and colors of the space where the window will be displayed,? explained Kraft. ?I try to visualize a window in the setting and come up with a concept for a window. This usually takes a while as I think about the right combination of colors, contrasts and variables in a scene. It can be my creation or something the customer wants. It?s pretty exciting when the concept comes together in my mind and I can sketch it on paper.?
In the next step, Kraft makes an actual-size rendering of the theme, followed by another drawing as if he were going to paint the picture. Kraft points out that everything is freehand and all based on the vision in his mind.
The drawing is then submitted to the customer for approval. Only then does the actual ?glass work? begin.
But it?s a process Kraft loves. ?Stained glass is beautiful and I love creating with it,? he said. ?And, glass and metal can last hundreds of years. I hope my creations will be treasured long after I?m gone.?
He explained that art has always been part of his background. Growing up in Los Angeles, Kraft?s grandmother was an oil painter. ?She made a living by selling paintings to restaurants, furniture stores and galleries,? he said. ?Her home always smelled like paint and turpentine.?
Vision loss forced her to retire from painting when Kraft was 12 and she gave him all of her painting equipment. He began to paint and developed a passion for it.
?When I make the windows, each piece is chosen with patience and feeling for what it will add to the final product. Each leaf has a place in the final vision.?
Kraft learned the stained glass window technique during the ?80s while he was attending college at UCLA, and made windows for people in that area.
But after he began a career with SIG International, California, he stopped working in stained glass, but always knew he?d come back to it someday.
Kraft moved to Boyden to set up a testing lab for SIG because one of their clients demanded detailed analysis of the meat in the plant.
?When I moved to Boyden, I hardly knew that Iowa was on the map. I?d lived in L.A. or Chicago all my life and when I came here it felt like I?d been dropped off in the middle of nowhere,? he said.
?But one evening after I?d finished work, I stood on Main Street and it was so quiet. Then the wind blew a tumbleweed down the street and it was followed by a can rolling along the pavement. Those were the only sounds. Then I remembered that in LA at the same time it would be rush hour, and I?d be surrounded by noise and congestion. That?s when I discovered that I loved being in a small town.?
Earlier this year SIG was notified that the Boyden Testing Lab was no longer needed, so Kraft had to make a choice. He could stay in science and return to California or he could stay in Boyden and take a chance making stained glass.
He?s hoping he made the right choice.
To make an appointment with George Kraft, contact him at 725-2718.
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