Sharon Bladholm Proprietor


I began working with glass at 18 years of age, initially learning the basics form another glass artisan and continuing to hone my skills through practice. My father was an artist and art teacher, so I grew up creating art and surrounded by art. I opened the original Opal Glass Studio at 3449 N. Sheffield in 1983 after returning from working with glass in San Francisco. After 7 productive years at this location operations were moved over to Chicago’s East Garfield Park neighborhood which was just beginning to transition into an arts area.Thomas Augustus "Gus" O'Shaughnessy (1870-1956), posthumously provided.

inspiration to a young artist. By a lucky chance I was able to purchase stained glass pieces and sheets that had belonged to him. Amongst the dusty boxes were old receipts with his name. I didn't know much about him, this was long before the internet, but the little I did know was intriguing. A maverick exploring with large scale copper foil windows and i recently learned, his own glass fabrication. This was through learning that a fellow artist Laura Coyle is his great niece. It was a special experience to learn to cut glass with this beautiful antique glass, and it taught me well, because if a piece broke the wrong way, their way no ordering a new sheet!

Hearing that he worked on his own, I related to his methods and studio more than Tiffany who had a huge studio with many employees. I was honored to restore the stained glass in the doors of St Patrick's, I was happy to see that the missing pieces were an exact green that had belonged to O’Shaughnessy that was in my stock of his glass.

Thanks to the genius of Gus, St. Patrick's , Chicago oldest Church built in 1852-1856 was transformed, between 1912 and 1922, into the best-known example of Celtic Revival Art in America. I also owe the name of studio, Opal glass Studio, to Gus as at 23 when I wracked my brain for a good name, I decided upon Opal, as it was his specifically Opalescent glass that I had learned to cut. Actually Opalescent glass is a distinctly American tradition pioneered by both Gus and Tiffany and was used to “paint” with glass with the swirls and streaks of color. European glass on the other hand was translucent glass, also called Cathedral and was usually painted on with black paint to delineate design.

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