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SPRINGDALE, NL — A creative artist from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. recently moved to Springdale and is opening a business selling her crafts and teaching people the art of stained glass.
Helen Collins discovered her passion for stained glass over two decades ago, after she retired from a 38-year teaching career —15 years of which were spent teaching visual arts. She went on to start Highland Mist Glass Shoppe in 2001 as a home-based business north of Sault Ste. Marie.
Collins was living in Hanover, Ont. when she met her partner James Snow, who was born and raised on Little Bay Islands in Green Bay.
She opened Highland Mist Glass Shoppe as a retail business in Hanover, and shared space with Snow for his computer repair business.
“He had his shop in the front and I had mine in the back,” Collins said. “He was very involved in what I was doing. He’s a very creative gentleman ... I’m really quite pleased to be partnered with him. And quite honoured.”
When Snow decided to move to his home province, and Collins showed an interest in Newfoundland, he suggested she move as well and that they re-establish their businesses in the province.
Collins and Snow bought property in Springdale, where they have set up shop at 154 Main Street.
Collins says she’s grateful to Snow for his feedback on her work. He also built the shelving for Highland Mist Glass Shoppe.
Coming to Newfoundland wouldn’t be the same without opening a business and getting to know the ins and outs of the community. That’s the exciting part for me.
Those who take the beginner stained glass course — which started in July — will learn how to cut glass, use stained glass tools, and learn about grinding and soldering.
Collins is also offering a one-on-one four-hour class. The participant will create a piece of stained glass artwork, while learning skills such as glass cutting, copper foiling and soldering.
Window hangings, garden ornaments, lamps, and sun catchers are just some of the crafts that can be created out of glass.
Collins says anyone who can do a jigsaw puzzle can create a piece of stained glass. As long as you aren’t afraid of glass, she says, you’ll do fine.
“Stained glass has come a long way,” she said. “You cut and join your pieces to fit together. Once they fit together you tape them with copper foil. Then, you solder them together.”
If you break your glass, according to Collins, you just use your imagination and continue with your piece.
“That’s the exciting part, because what it started out to be isn’t necessarily what it’s going to end up to be,” she said.
Anything you can imagine can be created with stained glass, she said, and it’s an art that can be enjoyed by young people as well as seniors.
“I had a student who was 72 (years-old),” she said. “She had never did any class in her life ... within three months, she was creating some really beautiful pieces. She was so thrilled. Now, she has unique Christmas gifts every year for her family.”
Collins and Snow moved to Springdale in May. Getting ready to open her business has helped her meet people in the community.
“Coming to Newfoundland wouldn’t be the same without opening a business and getting to know the ins and outs of the community,” she said. “That’s the exciting part for me.”
Although she’s only been living in Newfoundland for a couple of months, Collins has already developed a deep passion for the province.
“I love your province,” she said. “I think it’s stunning. Everything I see is so new and exciting. I’m absolutely in heaven.”
For more information about Highland Mist Glass Shoppe visit www.colleon.webcentre.ca/highlandmist or search Highland Mist Glass Shoppe on Facebook. Collins can also be contacted by phone at (709) 867-2142.