When thinking about stained glass, one might first think of large, transparent, colorful paintings found in churches and other historic buildings. IU junior Molly Brodzeller has taken this concept and turned it into a personal craft, perfecting her methods as she works to build a business around her art.
According to Brodzeller, she has to date made and sold 42 glass pieces, 35 of which were commissions, and she continues to receive more orders every month. Her artwork is made to the customer’s request and taste; each project varies in shape, size and color and Brodzeller has even turned pictures submitted by customers into stained glass portraits.
“I started selling glass over the summer,” Brodzeller said. “I had a lot of extra time because of the pandemic, and I’d been thinking about investing in the tools that I needed for glass work, so I finally took the leap.”
Brodzeller began working with glass in a 3-D art course she took in high school.
“We had just like, one or two projects that we did with glass,” Brodzeller said. “I didn’t like ceramics that much, so I encouraged my teachers to let me pursue glass further.”
These pieces are sometimes more intricate to make than one might expect. Brodzeller said she begins each order by meeting with the customer. She usually receives preferences on size, reference photos and color. After, Brodzeller sketches a design and makes sure the customer is satisfied. She then makes templates out of paper and uses these to transfer the design onto the glass. After the glass is scored and broken into the proper shapes, she wraps the edges of the glass in copper foil, allowing her to solder different pieces together.
However, Brodzeller said the question of expenses surrounding her work remains tricky.
“Pricing is definitely still a battle,” Brodzeller said. “I have probably ended up undercharging a decent amount because I’m still getting started.”
The process of finding and building a clientele has come to resemble a chain reaction, as Brodzeller describes it. Friends and family advertise Brodzeller’s glass through word of mouth, so most of her clients have been people she already knows.
Brodzeller also uses social media to reach potential buyers, posting pictures of her most recent pieces on her Instagram page, @glass.brodz, and taking orders via direct message as well.
Stephanie Gerrish, a sophomore at University of Indianapolis, said she recently purchased one of Brodzeller’s most functional pieces. Gerrish said she approached Brodzeller with a very rough idea of what she wanted, with no particular design in mind. The final result was a hanging geometric plant holder, made entirely of stained glass and metal.
“She took what I wanted and loved — plants — and made something functional and beautiful,” Gerrish said. “She made something that suited my personality and ‘vibes.’”
However, not all of Brodzeller’s projects have stemmed from such broad initial requests. IU junior Ava Taylor specifically sought out a particular design she had seen elsewhere. Taylor came to Brodzeller with a picture of a whale she wanted to have as a stained glass figure, and Brodzeller was able to replicate the image with minor necessary modifications to color.
“While she was making it she sent me sketches to make sure it was what I was looking for,” Taylor said. “It was absolutely beautiful.”
Brodzeller said she is busily working on orders for the holidays, but she is excited for her blossoming business and hopes to grow her clientele as much as possible.