Valerie Fish, Stained Glass Artist, Gives Back In Support Of Crucible Youth

By Cathy Niland | 12.2.2020

For the past few years, Valerie Fish has found inspiration for her stained glass all around her, be it California poppies or a drawing by her son. As a longtime maker, Valerie knows the importance of art, especially for our youth, and when presented with an opportunity to support The Crucible’s programming through Giving Back at GIFTY, she jumped at the chance!

Valerie donated two beautiful stained glass pieces to sell, with 100% of proceeds going to The Crucible. Shortly after our 2020 Virtual GIFTY launched on November 9,  Valerie’s beautiful Moon Phases pieces whet to an Oakland resident, and her lotus flower found it’s home with a Crucible staffer!

As a newcomer to GIFTY, we wanted to learn more about her practice and why she believes industrial arts access if important.

Valerie Fish

I Am The Crucible: Valerie Fish

Is this your first year as a GIFTY vendor?

It is my first year! Rob Nehring told me about GIFTY and said, “Hey you should do it, you would do really well.” Since I couldn’t actually go to the studio in person, I looked at The Crucible site and I thought, “Oh my gosh what a cool thing!” I mean it’s just really cool.

Why is arts education important to you?

When I was younger, the arts just got taken out of schools because it costs too much money, and it puts us in such a bad place. So it’s nice to see that there’s a place for people—especially younger people—to learn how to use their hands and their mind.

Is that why you decided to participate in Giving Back at GIFTY?

Yeah,  I usually don’t give away big things. And to me, a $75 item was a big thing. But I just really feel like it’s a good thing to support The Crucible.

Have you been seeing sales through GIFTY?

Yeah, I was kind of trying to keep track of three websites and it just got away from me, that GIFTY had started on November 9. I was getting sales and I thought, “Who are these people? How do they know about me?!” I’m excited about it!

Valerie Fish
Valerie Fish

The two original pieces Valerie Fish donated to Giving Back at GIFTY in support of Crucible programming.

I’m glad to hear that! How long have you been working in making stained glass?

I learned how to do stained glass in the seventies, you know when all the hippies were doing it! I stopped in the middle to have kids, but went back into it when I semi-retired at 65, so it’s been like over 40 years—a really long time.

Tell me about your inspiration.

I follow a bunch of young stained glass artists on Instagram and it’s different and fresh to see the designs that they’re coming up with. Stained glass is making a comeback. It’s exciting to see young people doing it.

I look at pictures online and I get inspiration from pictures that I see. And I think, “Oh, I can do this or I can do that.” A lot of my work is focused on nature. The mountain window panel reminds me of the Utah mountains—I made it for my son. The fish window for my daughter, she loves the sea and the ocean. The Alien window panel my son actually drew the design on a napkin and said, “Hey, can you make this?”

I love the idea of you turning your son’s drawing into stained glass. Does he have an artistic practice of his own?

He’s good at glass fusing and glass blowing, and he’s really good at drawing. That’s something that I was never really good at. He takes more after his dad—some people can just draw off the top of their heads!

Valerie Fish
Valerie Fish
Valerie Fish

Three Valerie Fish Glass window panels, including the alien ship inspired by her son’s design.

Tell me about the challenges of stained glass.

Stained glass is a bit exact because it’s so hard and unforgiving. It requires that it’s drawn well, cut well, and soldered well. If one of those is out of place then the whole thing looks off. If your design doesn’t look good on paper, it’s not going to look good in glass. Even with a picture I get a little bound up in my own thinking.

Do you have a favorite piece in your store at this time?

It’s funny but every time I make something, it becomes my favorite. I love the crane window panel. And the poppy window panel. The alien window. The fish window. When I finish it and can hold it up to the light, then I get really excited about it.

Is there a Crucible class you would be excited to take?

I always wanted to learn how to weld. My husband welds, my sons weld, and I’ve always wanted to. My oldest son said, “You really should learn because I feel like you could use it and do something really fun with it.” I’ve designed a couple of little things that he’s welded for me. But I think a welding class is something I would like to do!

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