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Meet Retta Hentschel of I Do Windows in Aurora

Today we’d like to introduce you to Retta Hentschel.

Retta, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Moving to a new house, having a baby, liking antiques, and looking for old stained glass windows lead to my artwork.

I discovered that I could not afford old stained glass windows for my new house because most of the glass manufacturers went out of business during WWII and formulas for glass making went missing.
Glass colors couldn’t be reproduced. Old windows were also pulled out of houses because they were drafty and the lead was needed for the war, too.

I signed myself up (at 27) for a local park district class to learn the mechanics of how to build stained glass.
I was hooked. In fact, I found myself teaching the same class the following year.

I had a grandmother that was an artist and she had a great influence on me. I always helped her at her shows and spoke with other artists, as well. In other words, at 16, I started to understand design and what was good engineering which helps me now in designing my own windows so they don’t fall apart.

Now, many years later, I find I’m up to my neck in custom orders and frantically making glass for galleries and fine art shows.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I think there are rough patches in any business. Mine was time and money and schedule. I had a young family with a husband and two children. I needed time for them. I had a job. I taught music in Junior High and elementary schools.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I incorporate salvaged antique Depression glass dishes, agate slices, rondels, chandelier parts and bevels with contemporary stained glass.

I match color and textures of contemporary American made glass to compliment the colors from the glass dish producers of Ohio and Indiana where most of the Depression glass were made during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

I use jewelry-like decorative soldering to hold the glass pieces in place. My soldering technique also accents and compliments the dishes as well as the stained glass. I have developed and improved this technique for over 15 years, making adjustments in engineering a window which results in the best-finished piece of art. My work is not done from patterns.

I start with a focal point and the stained glass is hand cut and custom fit around the focal point as the panel evolves. This provides me with the freedom to create and I craft each piece of art glass.

Because my art is built on a flat surface, I am always excited to see what I’ve created when the panel is first held up to the light. Building on a flat surface has also challenged me to engineer some unusual building techniques to achieve the three-dimensional look to most of my panels and lamps.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My husband is my biggest helper. He usually isn’t allowed to help in my studio. He has a tendency to ruin artwork I’m not quite finished with yet by dropping something. I couldn’t do an art show without him.

Pricing:

  • I do custom work. I can design a window around your mother’s or grandmother’s antique dishes
  • Pricing in 250.00 a square foot. If you need a perfect fit, figure out your square footage and multiply by 250.00.

Contact Info:

  • Phone: 630-917-7142
  • Email: rettaglass@sbcglobal.net
  • Instagram: windowsido
  • Facebook: I Do Windows by Rettaglass


Image Credit:
Retta Hentschel, Vic Von Ehr

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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