Solasta Stained Glass shines bright with nature-inspired art

Solasta Stained Glass shines bright with nature-inspired art

Solasta Stained Glass shines bright with nature-inspired art
March 20
15:57 2019

The word “solasta” is an old Scottish word meaning “of the sun” or “luminous.” It’s a fitting name for Carol Long’s art business, as thin sheets of colored glass grace the windows inside her home studio and glow with the sun’s incoming light. Each piece, hanging from either a leather strip or chain, catch and radiate the light differently, depending on the color and opacity of the glass.  

Carol Long, a retired teacher and current stained glass artist based in Denton, is the owner of Solasta Stained Glass. She started her craft around nine years ago and has since grown her hobby into a business. 

“It’s been a very gradual but organic and steady growth,” Carol said. “It’s just kind of taken on a life of its own. It’s not like I had this five-year business plan or anything like that, it just sort of evolved really naturally.”

Carol said she attended her first stained glass class with her daughters as something fun for them to do together. While she took an interest in the art form, Carol said raising children and working full-time as a high school English teacher prevented her from fully investing herself in stained glass. After retiring, however, Carol was able to commit to the practice. Carol said it was her daughter, Tracey Long, who encouraged her to turn her passion into a business.

Tracey, a Denton banker, pushed her to start the business around two years ago, initially interested in having her make stained glass containers to put air plants in. Tracey said she helped with designs for a little while before her mother took over, and that all she needed was a little nudge in the right direction.

“I just felt that if I got it going or showed her that it is something that people would be interested in, then she would run with it,” Tracey said. “And that’s pretty much what happened.”

As she started getting more serious about stained glass, Carol pursued an internship with Christie Wood, a Denton resident and the owner of Art Glass Ensembles. The two met at Wood’s booth at the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival and Carol said she practically begged for an internship. After a few months as an intern, Wood offered Carol a part-time job working at home making pieces for Art Glass Ensembles.

It takes about six months, Wood said, to become skilled enough to craft quality stained glass pieces. However, Carol said she only needed four.

“[Carol] was very motivated to learn as much as she could,” Wood said. “She was like a sponge just soaking [information] up, experimenting on her own and trying to figure out the best way to do stained glass.”

After creating Solasta Stained Glass, Carol began running booths at markets across the metroplex. Locally, she participates in the Denton Community Market, which operates every Saturday from April to November. This upcoming season will be Carol’s fourth year at the market.

Carol said making stained glass is a lengthy and tedious process. During her process, she uses pattern pieces to draw onto the glass and cut out the shapes with a glass cutter. She then grinds down the edges of the glass, lines the perimeter of each piece with copper foil tape and solders the edges of each piece together to create the design. After that, the glass is washed, waxed and buffed. 

Carol Long solders stained glass pieces together in order to form one fused piece. Long interned at the Art Glass Ensembles for only 4 months before being hired part-time. Image by: Adriance Rhoades.

Carol said she draws inspiration from virtually anything when coming up with designs. She enjoys motifs from sacred geometry to natural elements, like the moon, the sun, birds and flowers. Carol said one of her pieces, a blue and yellow design that resembles a tree with a crescent moon on top, even came from a dream.

“I can be looking at my couch and see a leaf and think, ‘Wow, that would look really cool as a stained glass piece,’” Carol said.

Carol said when she was a teacher, she set aside between 15 to 30 hours a week to practice her stained glass skills. Now that she is retired, she works on Solasta Stained Glass full time.

Aside from the time commitment, Carol said she spends a significant amount of money on her projects as well. Carol said the glass alone for small pieces costs $10 at the minimum, and much of that glass is wasted when cutting out intricate pieces. In addition to the glass, she must frequently purchase grinder bits, chemicals, solder, copper foil, leather, wax and more.

“[Stained glass making] doesn’t have the biggest profit margin of all the things that you could think to do,” Carol said. “I really do it because I love it.”

Carol said she loves making stained glass because it provides her with the opportunity to be creative. She finds the process of coming up with something original and unique and the technique required to create these pieces brings her joy.

“[Making the stained glass is] very calming to my soul,” Carol said. “It requires a lot of focus. You can’t even mess up a little bit.”

Carol is currently working on opening her Etsy shop to help her earn a steady income outside of the Denton Community Market season. For now, she can be found at @solasta.stained.glass on Instagram, where she posts about items available for sale.

“I love making stained glass,” Carol said. “I love it when people see something that makes them happy and think that maybe it’ll bring a little bit of beauty and joy into their home.”

Featured Image: Carol Long holds one of her favorite stained glass pieces she has created. She began taking stained glass classes nine years ago with her daughters. Image by: Adriance Rhoades.

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Haley Arnold

Haley Arnold

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