You know her as the queen of Gallery Glass! Carol Smith has worked in the arts and crafts industry for over 30 years, with multiple television appearances and published works. Carol is working for Plaid Enterprises and still crafting her heart out – with more plans for Gallery Glass in the future. Read a recent interview with her below.
What made you want to be a crafter and designer? I have always loved crafts, even as a child. I majored in Home Economics Education and my favorite category was Applied Arts, which is primarily crafts and needle arts. I can’t remember a time when making something with my hands wasn’t my ultimate goal for the day. It has sustained me through many of the catastrophes of life.
What inspires you – how do you decide what to make? The seasonality of a project is my most motivating factor. I was working on Father’s Day projects last week, now I’ve shifted to 4th of July. Whatever holiday is coming up next is my priority.
Share with us a few of your favorite projects. These three pieces (shown below) are my favorite works of all my 30 years. I painted them for a QVC kit about 10 years ago; we interpreted some of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s windows using the Gallery Glass Window Color. I was amazed at how much we were able to duplicate the look of real stained glass. I picked these three designs and did them on 24″x36″ Plexiglas. It was an enormous creative leap for me. Duplicating the color choices and shading of the foremost master glass artist of all time taught me more than I could ever have learned in a lifetime of painting on my own.
What is your studio or workspace like, and how do you work in your studio? I have a large built-in desk that opens into the sunroom where the TV is located and I can see it clearly from my desk. I spend most evenings sitting at my desk working the “project of the day” and listening (if not watching) to some movie or my favorite home makeover shows.
How would you describe and think of your style? I guess I would call my style preference–traditional elegance, in the stained glass category, at least. I have over 500 stained glass pattern books and I gravitate towards the designs that are traditional and exquisite, especially in line design. I like to put my own interpretation to the color palette and don’t usually imitate anyone’s style, unless I am doing a Tiffany design. I find his choice of color and texture to be unbeatable.
My favorite crafting resource is (and why): Dover Publishing. I study every new Dover catalog and order every new stained glass pattern book that they publish. I love that many of them come from the Pictorial Archive series and are copyright free for crafters to interpret and adapt for their own projects. I think that I have them all. I also buy their coloring books and their cut-your-own stencil books. I’m really a Dover “junkie.”
What has been the most rewarding moment in your crafty career? When I was selling crafts on shopping networks, Plaid was lucky enough to get to sell a number of special bargains of the day. My best days in crafts were the ones that we sold out of–my worst days were the ones when there were many thousands left at midnight. On those occasions, it was a long way home.
What new directions do you hope to move in the future? Do you have big plans, new ideas or designs you will be exploring soon? Gallery Glass is my baby! I was product manager when it was born and I would like to take it as high as possible. I believe that every household in America has a window that needs Gallery Glass. I am working towards communicating the features and benefits of the product to all those households–not TOO ambitious, is it?
Looking back, knowing what you know now, is there anything that you would do differently (in your crafty career)? I missed the opportunity to build a career around designing glass paintings. I was known for Gallery Glass and it has been my signature product on the shopping networks, but my career was more about promoting all Plaid’s products–not just Gallery Glass. It would have been a coin toss situation, really, because I enjoyed the road that I took, as well.
What is your biggest crafting tip? The Tape Tip is the key to really nice outlining–the first step of any glass painting. Many people struggle with “Leading” and can’t get past the obstacle of creating a neat outline. I am always encouraging my students to learn the quick, easy technique of taking a 3″ piece of cellophane tape and twisting it onto the end of the bottle tip to make a cone-shaped precision applicator for the leading. One of the best benefits is that it is disposable. You can pull the used one off just before your next leading project and apply a new fresh one. The Tape Tip will make any novice look like a professional in a matter of minutes. And it also conserves the leading because you can make thinner lines–therefore getting up to twice as many linear feet of leading from each bottle. I always use a tape tip for leading because it makes the bottle easier to squeeze and my hand doesn’t get as tired. For a video on making a tape tip, go here.
Thank you, Carol, for sharing with us! Please see one of Carol’s latest “before and afters” below. She is truly an amazing Gallery Glass artist! For more about Gallery Glass, visit PlaidOnline.com.