My husband used to create stained glass pieces, and one of the best gifts he ever gave me was a three-dimensional stained glass rose on a twisted wire stem. So, I've always had a soft spot for stained glass work. Whether it's the simpler pieces like my husband has made, or the windows gracing architectural gems such as Chartres Cathedral, I love them all. Barbra Davis' work is colorful, simple, and fun, and I think you'll like it too. Be sure to check out her stained glass "flip flops." Adorable!
Kelley: I think our childhoods play a big part in what we choose to do in life. How would you describe your childhood, and what about your childhood would you say played the biggest part in your life as a creative person?
Barbra: From the first moment I remember, I have loved to write. My parents weren't too supportive because they thought it would never amount to anything, but I ended up working for a newspaper later in life. As a young mom I was fortunate enough to be home with my children, but I wanted to contribute to the family income, so I started sewing, and I sold a lot of cute craft items. Guess that's how I got the bug to keep creating, and I have worked in many different media over the years.
Kelley: Tell us about your family and the role they play in your craft.
Barbra: Well, my husband is the biggest factor. We have been married almost 35 years, and we are both creative people. He has always encouraged me and helped me, and I love him for it. I never did stained glass work before we moved to Florida, though I was into quilting and other forms of sewing for many years. Jim has been working with glass for 40 years, so I always had him make any glass pieces that I wanted. When we opened a store, though, he felt I should learn to make some pieces so I would understand the process and be better able to help our customers. So I took two classes (from him), just like our students would do, and to my surprise, I found out I really like it! He loves to do the big pieces, I love the little ones, so it works out perfectly. Isn't God good?
Kelley: Would you say your relationship with God is a big part of how you express yourself creatively, and if so, how?
Barbra: Certainly! I know any talent or skill I have is a gift from Him, and He has given it to me to use for Him. I also see it as part of the "family resemblance" to my Father, the Creator of the universe. It's in my DNA. If we are made in His image, we must all be creative in some way. I also make a lot of items for use in my church, especially in our Women's Ministry (which I head). My favorite pieces are angels in various forms, shapes and colors, and also crosses.
Kelley :" Family resemblance." I love that. And it's so true! So, what would you say is the most difficult part of the creative process for you?
Barbra: Finding time to work with the schedule I keep! I have a part-time job as a church secretary, and I have several online stores that I try to keep updated. Sometimes the actual mechanics of my craft are a bit difficult too, as I am getting older and have a touch of arthritis. Stained glass work requires a bit of hand strength, and some days it just isn't there. That's when I do paperwork at the studio.
Kelley: What part of the creative process do you enjoy the most?
Barbra: Finding and adapting patterns for my use. Most patterns available are either too complicated or not exactly the way I want to make the item. I like to make bright and beautiful things that aren't always traditional. Of course, my husband is an artist and often makes patterns just the way I like, but it's fun to make my own.
Kelley: How did you come to selling your stained glass work?
Barbra: When we opened a stained glass retail store, I wanted to provide some small sun catchers for folks who loved stained glass but couldn't afford the big pieces. Also, since we are in an area that gets some tourists, I wanted to provide some cute, inexpensive but well-made souvenirs to send or take home. As time passed, I realized that the internet could help me open up my market considerably. I first sold on eBay, but soon moved to Etsy and several other handcrafted, art-oriented sites. I really enjoy writing the descriptions, too.
Kelley: What is the best piece of advice you can give other creative people?
Barbra: Hang in there, pray a lot, and don't let others tell you what you should and shouldn't make. My husband told me the little sun catchers would never sell, but they have done so consistently, and people love them.
Kelley: I find that many creative people are talented in a number of different areas. What other creative pursuits do you enjoy?
Barbra: I love to write as often as possible, even if it's just for me. I also like to create things with the local sea shells I find on the beach.
Kelley: Last but definitely not least, what scripture do you find particularly inspirational and why?
Barbra: Most of the book Ecclesiastes, because it is the story of my life. My life verses are Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths." I trust in these words on a daily basis.
Kelley: Thanks, Barbra! And now here are a few links where you can find Barbra's stained glass work: