[Bio is an interview with Laura Thorne from London Fuse, 2021]
While Stacie Foerster, the maker behind Forest City Stained Glass started working with stained glass in 2015, the tradition has been in her family for decades. Her grandfather, from whom she inherited a stained glass suncatcher, practiced the trade.
She inherited one of his suncatchers, and twenty years later, saw the piece on Instagram. This serendipitous discovery served as a catalyst, spurring her curiosity about the craft, and leading her to pursue glass professionally. Stacie moved to London, ON from Ithaca, NY, and shortly after began building a small business in a community she loves, as evidenced by her choice of business name.
She regularly updates her shop with ready-to-ship, pre-made items and accepts made-to-order custom pieces of many of her designs in your choice of colour.
Often inspired by nature — whether birds, mountains, flowers, or plants — Stacie’s pieces feature vibrant colours and crisp lines easily incorporated into any decor. Her Instagram feed is full of gorgeous, unique modern stained glass pieces, along with regular appearances by her two cats, Jack and Ziibi.
Pre-COVID, Stacie also hosted in-person workshops in her home studio in Old South. The workshops are open to all with no skill necessary and are all about the experience of making something cool yourself. (UPDATE 2022 - Workshops have resumed!)
Stained glass is genuinely an art form, with skilled artisanry required to cut and shape glass, a notoriously challenging medium.
So, let’s get to know this vibrant and bold maker!
What do you make?
Stained glass suncatchers and panels.
How and when did you start creating?
I “found” stained glass serendipitously on Instagram back in 2015. I scrolled past a photo of what appeared to be the same suncatcher that I inherited twenty years prior from my late grandfather, who also made glass, and it stopped me in my tracks: Was he famous?! Despite knowing my grandpa made lamps and suncatchers for everyone in our family, I knew nothing about stained glass and was too young to care at the time. Besides, he lived in Florida – halfway down the coast from my family in Maryland – and I only saw him a few times a year. All this to say, he could have been famous, and I was clueless.
So, that Instagram photo set me on a path to find out where that piece came from, and in the end, I discovered that my grandpa, like many glass artists, learned from pattern books. Mystery solved! But it wasn’t the end of my journey because all that sleuthing lit something inside of me, and I started learning about the craft in earnest, eventually falling in love and starting my own business in 2017.
Do you remember your first piece? What was it?
My first piece was an atrocious-but-adorable mountain range that took me way longer than it should have. I am self-taught (with help from various old websites and some YouTube tutelage), so there was a lot of… process.
What do you wish you had known when you first started making?
Honestly, not much. I enjoyed the feeling of knowing nothing and having this huge hill to climb by myself. I only wish my grandpa was around to show me the ropes, but I like thinking he had something to do with helping me find it.
How did you come up with your name for your business?
Since London is our fair Forest City, naming my business after my home seemed like an appropriate homage.
What or who inspires you?
Nature, words, art, music, feelings, friends, family. All of it swishes around in my head and heart to influence what I make.
What’s your favourite item or piece to work on?
I offer a Made to Order option on my website where you can select one of my previous designs and have it made in your choice of colours. When someone orders the snowcapped mountain range, I smile every time because it holds a special place in my heart. It was my very first design, and I’ve made many of them over the years. It’s the only piece I’ve seen change as I grew within the craft, reminding me of where I began, where I am, and where I have yet to go!
What’s the most challenging aspect of being a maker?
Wearing all the hats to run a business isn’t for everyone because it’s definitely not just about the making (although it’s the best part)! I’m the only employee of Forest City Stained Glass, which means I’m the designer, maker, communications director, marketer, photographer/editor, orderer, scheduler, bookkeeper, sole-decision-maker, snack chef, and studio DJ. I’m likely forgetting a few things, but I really enjoy the challenges, and I strive to be a stellar employee for myself.
I spent most of my formative work years as a manager in the hospitality industry, wanting to one day own my own cafe (before falling out of love with that idea), so I was an eager entrepreneur by the time I found stained glass. So far, navigating all the peaks and valleys of running a creative small business has made me a better person.
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Fun fact - When I started glass, my dad gave me all of my grandpa's leftover supplies including a toolbox. One day I was rifling through old papers and came across a glass receipt from a Sunrise Stained Glass, somewhere in Florida from the 1980s. Where do I buy my glass here in London, Ontario?
Sunrise Stained Glass.