COURTNEY BAKER

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Can you talk a little bit about how you got started doing stained glass? Was this always your passion?

Honestly, I was just getting tired of the mundane 9-5 work life. It all started because I wanted a creative outlet and something to occupy my time in the winter months. I actually thought wood carving was going to be my calling because my uncle and grandpa are both amazing woodworkers and my dad grew up in Northern Idaho in the trees. But, needless to say, woodworking was not my calling. My best friend actually suggested stained glass because her mother used to do it. I was instantly intrigued because I had NO CLUE how stained glass was made, but always found it beautiful. I started watching YouTube videos and couldn’t stop. I became obsessed from the first video. So, I slowly started ordering supplies and just did it! All of my stained glass skills were acquired form YouTube videos, blogs and books… and of course, lots of trial and error. 

 
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In terms of art as a career, what's your process for finding a balance to create outside work? How do you prevent burnout? 

Luckily, glass is my career. But what I struggle with is sticking to an actual work schedule in order to avoid burning out. I used to just work on glass all day, everyday. But… I was easily burnt out and became a slave to my sales. I used to conduct my business way differently than I do now. I used to offer every piece as “made to order”, meaning as soon as someone orders a piece, it’s instantly on my to-do list. So nothing was made unless it was ordered. It left me without control, which ultimately left me unsatisfied. I had to remember that I started doing glass as a creative outlet, and though I was relying on it to pay my bills, I needed to take back control. So, after over a year of burning myself out, Christmas of 2017 was my stopping point with “made to order”. Now, if it’s available on my site, it’s already been made. It's made me love glass again. It made me want to work. So now, I work when I want… with a little bit of discipline. 

 
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When do you feel like you're creating your best work?

I feel like I’m creating my best work when I’m genuinely excited to make a piece. I love drinking my iced coffee in the mornings, listening to music, picking out the glass and pattern I’m going to make that day. The sun pours into my glass room in the morning so the glass is just really being chosen in the best lighting. I don’t know if people who don’t do stained glass understand just how beautiful glass can be. It’s just really something. 

 
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In terms of process, what does a day look like for you in the studio?  

I guess I kind of touched on that on number 3. My studio days are all very similar as far as routine goes. I make myself an iced coffee, and just put myself in my studio. The glass is what inspires me. I’m constantly buying new glass so its always exciting to actually see it in the mornings, like Christmas. I pick a Pandora station and just get to work. I cut and grind the glass while listening to music, mainly because I’m moving around the studio so much. When I copper foil and solder, I sit down and watch something on Netflix, or listen to podcasts.

 
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What have you discovered about yourself in the past year? How has this discovery impacted your work?

Wow, this is a tough one! I guess I would have to say that I finally feel like an artist. Up until I regained control over my business, I was making anything and everything that approached me. Meaning, I was making things that I liked, but maybe also things that I didn’t, mainly because I had bills to pay. It really made me unhappy. I finished my holiday orders on December 18th and wasn’t taking anymore orders. So for the first time in my glass career, no one was waiting on a piece from me. I felt so free and so excited to finally just make whatever the hell I wanted to make. It was at that moment that I discovered that the followers didn’t matter. My ability to express myself through glass is all that matters. Obviously I am so grateful and forever indebted to my followers because I wouldn’t be able to monetarily survive on my art like I do now, but it can’t be what drives my creations.

 
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Your leafy green window corner pieces are my personal favorite - how did you come up with the idea for those, and have you found they're a popular item?

You know, I am obsessed with plants. My mom has a huge monstera plant (amongst others) that is over 25 years old! She and my dad have green thumbs! I do not. I cannot keep a plant alive. I either love it too much, or I ignore it too much. I just accepted the fact that I can’t own plants. But I LOVE the way they brighten and liven up a space! So I thought, how can I have plants hanging without having to water them? And that's kind of how that played out. 

 
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What's one thing you do that afterwards, you always feel inspired to create? Why does that thing inspire you so much?

I would probably have to say after I buy new glass. You almost can just see a piece come to life after you see some sheets of glass. It’s kind of a trip. But glass can really be so beautiful and moving I just look at it. Someone made that sheet and it just really makes me feel inspired to have something so beautiful in my possession that someone made with their own blood, sweat and tears. 

 
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Any plans for a brick and mortar retail location in the future? Or any other big plans for growing your business?

Oh man, maybe some casual thoughts about a storefront. Nothing that’s serious. It would be exciting to do something like that, but I don’t know if I’m ready to give up the time I actually have in the studio to do all of the things that involve not only running a small business, but also running a second small business, meaning the actual storefront. So until I feel like I’m ready to take that leap, I’ll just stay at my home with my dogs. :)

 

 

Check Courtney out on Instagram and her website.

And check out her Ten Facts feature here.