Stained glass is often associated with large-scale pieces; sprawling mosaics, iconic cathedral windows, and ancient works of art. This meticulous craft doesn’t have to be reserved for the grandiose, though. As Etta Kostick proves, stained glass provides an illustrious splash of color to handmade jewelry.
Etta combines the techniques that were passed to her from her family of glassblowers and her talent for sculpting jewelry from silver and other metals to create her bold hexagon bracelets and the rings and bracelets in her collection.
The artist creates her pieces in her Chicago studio–a bright, inviting work space within her own apartment. Although we didn’t catch her hula hooping in her living room (see “How do you recharge your creativity?”), we did convince her to take us on a virtual tour of the place where she captures light and luster with glass and solder.
What are your most essential tools?
I couldn’t live without my soldering iron. It’s a pretty basic tool but it allows me to transform solder into a molten state so I am able to manipulate it. I also always have podcasts streaming while working and the occasional bad reality TV show. It’s definitely my guilty pleasure.
Where do you find inspiration within this space?
My studio is located in my apartment and I love being able to roll out of bed, have a cup of coffee and start working. What most inspires me within my workspace are the raw materials surrounding me. Having all my materials easily accessible allows me to brainstorm new designs and test them out right away.
In the summer I really love working in my living room- I have a really comfy chair located right near all of the front windows. I get to enjoy the cross breeze and all of the chirping birds in the trees.
Where does down time fit into a day in the studio?
I like to take breaks and wander around the neighborhood, go to the gym, or lay out in the park. For a quick boost of energy I hula hoop in my living room.
How do you set goals for yourself?
I set weekly goals and am pretty good at scheduling times I should be in the studio. I have learned that it is important to pace myself and maintain a schedule that allows for a balanced day of work and down time. I like for my goals to reflect this lifestyle. I also like to be constantly creating new designs, exploring new techniques and pushing myself creatively. This is a constant goal for me and it seems to manifest itself naturally.
Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
I work by myself so I usually don’t do too much collaborating, but I love getting advice and input on new designs I am working on from friends and family members. I have worked in the past with my father- he is a glassblower, a craft he taught me when I was 7. We recently have collaborated to create fused glass sheets for my current work. I love that I have been able to maintain a connection with my family’s trade and incorporate it into my jewelry designs.
How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
My favorite way of celebrating success is by traveling. Although I am technically not working during these times, I find that much of my inspiration for my jewelry occurs when I am traveling and exploring landscapes that are new to me.
What quote keeps you motivated? What does that quote mean to you?
I love the Thomas Edison quote “I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.” It was terrifying to take that initial leap and go full time with my business but this quote was a reminder of how I should approach life and work.
How do you recharge your creativity?
I grew up in the country and I love getting out of the city to connect back to my rural roots. There are some great state parks within driving distance of Chicago. There is nothing more relaxing and revitalizing to me than going to a quiet beach and lounging out by myself for the day. I always come back refreshed and energized.
What advice would you offer the you of 5 years ago?
Keep pursuing what you love! It was easy to feel overwhelmed and insecure during that time period when I was just starting my business. I’ve learned a lot in 5 years and I would tell myself it’s OK to make a mistake. It’s all a part of the learning process.