by Lou Mancinelli
When sunlight hits stained glass, the result can be symphonic. In centuries-old churches stained glass often needs restoring. Like in Sienna, Northern Italy, where last spring Chestnut Hill’s Crefeld Glass Studio instructor Kat Iannitto served an apprenticeship, restoring 500-year-old windows.
Kat wrapped up a two-session Stained Glass Panel workshop, exploring the basics of cutting glass, creating patterns and forming your own stained glass, on Feb. 10 at Crefeld Glass Studio (offered through the Mt. Airy Learning Tree), 8836 Crefeld St. She will be teaching a five-weekly session course there, however, beginning Feb. 23 and ending March 23.
Like a piano player who expresses emotion and change by how fast or softly he/she plays, glass is a medium that responds to its creator. It knows what you do, according to Iannitto. It’s finicky, and it breaks easily.
“Glass working requires a lot of patience,” Iannitto said. “If you’re in a bad mood, the glass breaks. Everything you do reflects in your glass. Anytime you touch it or move it, the glass reacts.”
During the workshop, students learn the proper way to cut glass panels with the goal of creating a finished piece. If you cut a right angle out of the glass, it will break because the line you’ve made wants to continue. You have to cut in squares.
If people want to design a cross in one piece along the window, it’s easy for the glass to crack. Instead, the cross is safer divided into sections. In her workshop, Iannitto provides designs, but for those interested in making their own, she can help them cut. “Glass always wants to make a straight line,” she said.
There are different types of glass—hard and soft. Stained glass is soft glass, and requires more patience. It’s forgivable in that, if you don’t like what you’ve made, you can melt it down in a kiln and begin again. It’s versatile too. Generally two-dimensional, you can make it three-dimensional as well. Iannitto enjoys integrating different materials in her stained glass, like metal or plastic.
“Regular people who aren’t artsy can still make something in glass look really good,” Iannitto said.
At the workshop students will use the foil technique to solder parts together, also known as the Tiffany Technique. The method was developed by Louis Tiffany of Tiffany Glass, whom you may know from their gorgeous lamps. But according to Iannitto, history debates if it was really Tiffany, or John LaFarge who created the classic style — the two worked together. In her own right, Iannitto has made lamps also.
In 2012, Iannitto graduated from Tyler School of Art where she concentrated on glass. Since then, she’s worked in the field teaching and creating her own art. She currently works four jobs — one with David Albert Glass Studio in the Northeast, another at Art Department Studios in the suburbs.
Raised in Cheltenham, Iannitto was taken to Italy when she was 9 by her great aunt, where she fell in love with the beauty of glass. While a student at Cheltenham High School she realized maybe it could be her future.
Now 26, Iannitto hopes to launch her first business, Green Art Glass Studios, this March. She has already filed paperwork and is finalizing her website. It will be a way for her to sell some of her creations, such as ornaments. Recycling bottles and transforming them into works of art is one method Iannitto uses to create new pieces.
“The intention of my current body of work is to contradict the ideological constructs our society is founded on while at the same time being ecologically friendly,” she has written. “The Debonair Collection (which explores how gender in perceived) recontextualizes basic recyclable waste materials easily found in any college house.”
She got the idea because she felt in college that wine and its curvy, delicate glasses were perceived as feminine. The wine bottles reminded her of Venetian goblets. She wanted to play on that. “I wanted to make more like, ‘bro’ goblets and not have them feel super dainty.” She also created home wear, and she plans to visit craft shows and markets for ideas to expand beyond just glass objects.
For more information about Kat’s upcoming course, contact Crefeld Glass Studio at 215-242-5545 or MALT at 215-843-6333, or visit Kat’s website, www.greenartglassstudio.com.