ADAMS — As a child, Linda Mendel fell in love with the stained-glass windows of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.
She didn’t know it at the time, but her fascination with the way light filtered through the colored window panes would lead her to a career in the arts, first as a secondary school art teacher (she teaches art and business classes at Mount Greylock Regional School) and most recently, as the owner of a stained-glass art studio.
In early February, the Adams native opened Mendel’s Stained Glass Art Studio at 1 East Hoosac St., directly across the street from St. Stanislaus, where, growing up, she spent her Sunday mornings.
“We don’t have anything in our area even to do other art classes,” Mendel said. “It’s really difficult to find just creative places to do things. I’m from Adams, and I’m a hometown girl, and I just wanted to bring my love of art here to town.”
She’s already filled three stained-glass classes since she began offering them at the studio. People of all ages, from teenagers to septuagenarians, have come to learn the craft, she said.
She sees the studio serving as a new local art space; a creative outlet for people who seek one nearby.
Some lesson-goers have been surprised to learn that artists do not “stain” glass, Mendel said. The process involves cutting different colored glass pieces and soldering them into a pattern.
A package of beginner lessons includes four weekly group meetings, each of which is three hours long, for a total of 12 hours. Participants in those classes — the package is $100 and includes supplies — typically create two pieces that they can take home. They usually start with a small project, such as a tulip, before moving on to create a larger panel.
For people who want just to try it once, there are one-off lessons that last around two hours, ranging in price from $15 to $30. Recent offerings have included flower and shamrock mosaics and dragonfly suncatchers. Upcoming classes and registration links can be found at mendelstainedglass.com/events.
“It’s been a lot of fun, and with the pandemic, people are just happy to have somewhere to go and something to do and something fun,” Mendel said. “And you can be creative, there’s people around, and it kind of just creates its own energy.”
Mendel herself learned stained glass techniques from classes like the ones she now teaches, although she attributes her love for stained glass to her time in church as a child.
“I used to go to church with my best friend and her parents,” Mendel said. “We would go on the weekend, and I’d be like, ‘Ugh, I’m here again.’ And then I’d realize, ‘Oh my God, I love the way that light shines through the panel.’”
During her late 20s, she started going to stained glass classes in Bennington, Vt., and later attended classes in Williamsburg and Northampton. Stained glass also led her to other glass-related interests, such as glass painting, glass fusing, glass blowing and beadwork, Mendel said. She now takes her Mount Greylock students on field trips to explore some of those art forms.
“I’ve just been lucky because I’ve gotten to love the medium, and I’ve gotten the opportunity, through a lot of different ways, to share that with people,” Mendel said.
Last year, she purchased the building on the corner of East Hoosac Street for the studio, she said, because she saw an opportunity to “kind of clean up the corner and do something that I like to do.”
Since opening, Mendel said she has been grateful for the support she has received. Around 20 people attended a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony, held by the Adams Board of Selectmen on Feb. 14, officially welcoming the new business to the town.
“You used to always have to travel go do anything and, even now, trying to find something to do that’s art-related is really difficult around here,” Mendel said. “It’s something to do in town. I’ve been overwhelmed by the response.”
More information: 413-841-3329, mendelstainedglass.com.
Danny Jin, a Report for America corps member, is The Eagle’s Statehouse news reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com, @djinreports on Twitter and 413-496-6221.