The newest stained glass exhibit from Allen Kalas is truly a treat to see.
Kalas opened his latest exhibit, Canadian Nature All Glassed Up, at Peace Gallery North on May 3.
“I want people to walk away thinking when they walk out in the Canadian wilderness that they appreciate what they see,” Kalas says.
“When we live in this part of the world, we take for granted what we have around us. So, if they see a piece, like Moraine Lake with the canoes out by the lake, if they see that and they walk out and they say, ‘I remember seeing that, I’ve been there.’ I want them to be inspired by it, and be in awe of what’s out there for all of us to enjoy.”
Kalas has been working with stained glass for nearly 40 years, and it shows.
He became enthralled working with the medium after learning the trade during a holiday visit to Windsor, at a studio called Len’s Stained Glass.
“I was too cheap to buy a Tiffany lamp,” Kalas recalls with a laugh.
“I said, I’m going to go in there, see if they can give me some classes while I’m here on holidays for two weeks, and then I can make my Tiffany lamp.”
The next class, however, wasn’t until May. So, at the cost of buying his tools, Kalas worked side-by-side Len and his staff, learning the craft and how to make lamps and mirrors and suncatchers in exchange for free labour.
There, Kalas learned the copper foil method, and has stuck with it ever since. With the method, the artist cuts a piece of glass, grinds off the sharp edges, and, with a tool, rolls on pieces of copper foil — “which is just like Scotch tape on one side,” Kalas says — to hold the glass together.
“So, it will seal that copper foil on the flat surface of the ends, and on the two side surfaces. Then, you have to use a piece of leather and burnish that to seal it down real well, put each piece in place on your patterns,” he says. “You put each piece on the panel of cardboard template and then you solder all those lines. Depending on what effect I want, will depend on how wide of solder or foil I use.”
A large piece can take up to 37 hours of artistry, not including design, which is done with the help of a computer and his wife Judy. A suncatcher can be made relatively faster.
Kalas has included a step-by-step breakdown of his process in his exhibit. “I want people to see my process not just come here looking to buy stuff,” he says. “I want them to appreciate what I do.”
Kalas has stained glass of every colour and pattern in his workshop in Cochrane — 2,000 square feet of it, he says, and even then that’s not enough, depending on what he’s looking for.
“The medium, I just love it,” Kalas says.
“Painters, they can take their paint and mix the colours and make it exactly the way they want it. I have to find the right glass. I can’t just say, I’m going to use this one, it’s going to be perfect. You have to find the right glass.”
Catch Canadian Nature All Glassed Up at Peace Gallery North through May.
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at firstname.lastname@example.org.