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Sidney Butler

Stained Glass

In traditional U.P. form, Sidney Butler balances a lifestyle split between two mediums: stained glass and freelance music (as a harpist). Butler, who now works out of her grandfather’s art studio in Calumet, was born in Des Moines, Iowa, taking annual family vacations to Lac La Belle. Upon her completion of graduate school, Butler earned a teaching post at Michigan Tech University, a position that would bring her back to her grandparents’ house. Butler, admittedly, didn’t love teaching as much as she loved living in the old Kitti house and reveling in the Upper Peninsula’s four seasons. It is the area’s natural beauty, as much as the geometry and patterns in both nature and numbers, that inspire Butler’s stained glass pieces. She identifies with, and practices, the precision, detail, balance and perfection of execution that both her art and music require. With 11 years of experience behind her, Butler delights in knowing that she can make a living by doing what makes her happy. Both the challenge inherent in creativity and the freedom of lifestyle her work affords her gives new breadth to Butler’s original designs.

Butler takes on everything from original designs and national flags, to repairs and restorations in her stained glass work. She begins with a sketch on paper and then scans the image onto her computer. After printing the design on sticky paper, Butler adheres the pattern on glass. She scores the glass, grinds the edges to fit, tacks each piece into the whole on the work surface and adjusts the fit. Once Butler wraps and burnishes copper foil edges, she brushes the foil with flux. This allows the solder to adhere. She then washes off the flux, applies a polishing paste wax and buffs the finished design. Some pieces have a framing of lead or zinc, which is snipped and curved to fit, then soldered at the joints.

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