Betty Cottle - Biography
“Playful, unique, colorful, and happy is how I describe my stained glass art.
That’s how I feel while I’m creating it, and that’s what I hope people will see in it.”
I grew up in a small town in Michigan, and my first exposure to stained glass was on a visit to a friend’s Catholic church. I was mesmerized by the colors of the glass as the sun shone through it. That was my inspiration for taking a six-hour stained glass class as a teenager. My first creation was a framed panel of a sailboat on the water at sunset, which I still have.
Although I enjoyed that first exposure to it, I did little with stained glass for many years. I married and was a stay-at-home mom, raising our two boys. Fast forward 20 years, I decided to take it up once again and thus began my journey as a stained glass artist.
Initially, I used patterns but quickly moved on to my own original ideas. Some of those early pieces still grace our home, but most were given away as gifts. As friends began encouraging me to enter local art shows where some of my pieces won ribbons, stained glass became more than just a hobby. It became my passion.
I see each creation as a jigsaw puzzle for which I fashion the pieces. I work in a cozy studio surrounded by many sheets of vibrantly colorful, sometimes highly textured glass. It’s my happy place. Often, I use found or repurposed objects that I integrate into my art. I’m always searching for more glass and other items to add to my collection and browse through these supplies while working on a piece to see how I might incorporate something found into it.
I enjoy creating three-dimensional effects with glass using shells, rocks, arrowheads, sea glass, and antique glass buttons in a piece. Once, I included some porcupine quills, another time a pair of Rayban eye glass lenses. One time, I was given and used a nearly 100-year-old glass parade cane. Currently, I’m finding a way to feature bicycle gears, vintage headlights and taillights, bike chains, and the feet of colorful wine glasses. Of course, whenever I travel, I’m always on the lookout for unique pieces of glass I can use in my work.
I begin each new project in my head, coming up with an idea for a design. Then I go into my studio and pick out the glass for it. As the piece evolves, I may decide to make changes in the colors or shapes I initially chose. I think of myself as an inventor, so no one can tell me what I can and can’t do. But I also enjoy collaborating with clients. When I get an order for a commissioned piece, I think it’s extra special when my client wants to participate in their artwork and maybe even incorporate their own meaningful objects into it.