Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Here's some money, go make yourself better..."

     I’d been mulling over the idea of applying for a grant, specifically for teachers, for a while. The grant, The Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship (, is for $8,000 and can be used for anything you want…personally. Sound’s easy, doesn’t it? I think we could all think up a way to spend $8,000 on ourselves. But the kicker was this: it has to be spent on a project or activities that are “personally renewing and intellectually revitalizing.” The fact is, every year I consider applying for this grant, but have never had any good ideas for ways to personally renew myself and revitalize myself intellectually. I could have planned an exotic trip to hither or yon, traveled to unexpected locales and studied what-nots. But the ideas that came to mind just never seemed to fit ME.
       Until this year. Like the proverbial light bulb, an idea flashed into my mind as I sat in my classroom, where I teach art. As an art teacher, people say I’m a pretty crafty gal. And it’s true, I am good at making crafty things. But that about all I ever do. Crafty things. I like to say I’m a “stained glass artist.” But really I make trinkets you hang in windows or on Christmas trees, and the occasional picture frame. In truth, I have reached a creative plateau born of the need to satisfy my artistic expressions quickly so I can fulfill the requirements of life: domestic responsibilities, raising two children, holding down a job…well, you know. But lately I’ve felt that “satisfying my artistic expressions quickly” isn’t enough for me. I know that behind all the glitter and glue and pretty trinkets that I normally throw together (gotta get done and move on to laundry), there is an authentic, viable artist who want to shake off the expectations of pretty baubles and be appreciated for true artistic accomplishment.    Stained Glass Owl Suncatcher Bold Greens
stained glass picture frame - Shimmering Sea

These are stained glass creations made by me. You can visit my Etsy shop, The Glasserie, at

     Hence my grant idea: The project I proposed is based on my love of working with stained glass. This is a skill I learned in college and have continued to practice over the years. However, I no longer do stained glass for myself. I do it because it is requested of me, or for economic gain. What was once a creative, artful endeavor for me is now a rushed routine craft often done without achieving artistic satisfaction. I certainly don’t feel like the artist that I know I am capable of being. Therefore, I proposed to dedicate a focused 6 week period to designing and creating stained glass art that is more challenging and artistic than the trinkets that have become my standard. My goal for the finished product of my project is to create 4 large stained glass panels, approximately 22” x 22” in size, although the dimensions will vary with each specific design. I will take my inspiration for my designs from nature’s seasons, creating panels depicting nature-based scenes from autumn, winter, spring, and summer.
Landscape with Waterfall
by Louis Comfort Tiffany
I am consistenly awed by the incomparable Tiffany!  I won't even begin to pretend that I will ever reach his mastery of glass. But I sure do like to look at it!
        I have been a member of Acres Land Trust (, an organization dedicated to preserving natural areas in and around Indiana, for three years. Regrettably, I have not made an effort to enjoy the benefits of membership. I confess my neglect of free and unlimited access to Indiana’s natural splendor found in forests, wetlands, prairies, rivers, and waterfalls. Specifically for my project, I will explore 28 Acres nature preserves, hike the trails, take many photographs, and enjoy myself immensely. I feel this project will be a perfect opportunity to combine my passion for renewing my artistic sensibilities, my need to create for artistic satisfaction, and my desire to appreciate my state’s natural beauty and resources.

These are my kiddos, Hank and Evelynn on an outing to Kokiwanee Nature Preserve (, an Acres preserve in Wabash county, Indiana.
       And apparently the Lilly Endowment thinks so too, because I GOT THE GRANT!! There are many other things I will do with my $8,000 this summer, including taking classes, touring a stained glass manufacturer, and visiting stained glass exhibits and museums. Please stay tuned to this blog to see photos of my Acres Land Trust hiking experiences, to follow me as I take classes and visit interesting stained glass sites, and to be kept updated on my progress as I design and construct my stained glass panels. I will be very busy, but very artfully engaged this summer. And when it’s all said and done, I plan on feeling like a stained glass artist, not just professing to be one.

You just gotta love it when someone says, “Here’s some money, go make yourself better!”


  1. You are so gonna rock this stained glass! I cannot wait to see what you create...and I'm excited that you are blogging about it! Congrats, again!

  2. This is such an awesome opportunity for you Katy! I am excited for you being of the crafty nature myself....the difference being you ARE an artist! I look forward to seeing your creations and reading about the transformation of your talents....Congratulations, no one deserves this honor more than you.