Rolling up your sleeves

From hobbyist to pro, Meggy Wilm teaches the ancient art of stained glass at her newly opened studio on Pearl Street

Wilm (right) and one of her employees cutting glass and wrapping pieces in copper foil in the Colorado Glass Works studio. Photo by Will Matuska.

Stained glass is a thousand-year-old art form, with origins tracing to the ancient Romans and Egyptians. Its light-transforming qualities have been used in architectural design since the 10th century, often to depict stories or elicit awe in cathedrals and churches. 

And while you may never be able to replicate the intricate stained glass works of the rose windows in the Chartres Cathedral in France, Meggy Wilm wants to help you become your own kind of stained glass artist.

“It’s one of those things where you have a lot of simple tasks that all add up,” Wilm says from the recently opened storefront of Colorado Glass Works on Pearl Street in Boulder. “Maybe there’s a little artistic talent, but a lot of it is just rolling up your sleeves and doing hard work and spending hours making pieces.”

Growing up in Littleton, Wilm remembers being enamored by the beauty of stained glass at a young age. 

“There’s something about it that just makes you stop for one extra second,” she says. 

After studying medicine in college, she decided it wouldn’t be her career. She took a stained glass class and hasn’t looked back since. She started making pieces at home using the copper foil method, sitting crossed-legged on her hardwood floor teaching herself the craft.

Even then, about five years ago, Wilm did everything except make the glass itself: drawing designs, picking colors, cutting, grinding and sanding glass into perfectly form-fitting shapes, then finally soldering lead and tin (to 600 degrees F) to her copper foil wrapped glass cuttings to complete each piece. 

‘Rainbow Lace Dichroic Monstera 2’ hanging in the window of Colorado Glass Works. Available at $805. Courtesy Colorado Glass Works.

Wilm had found a new hobby — one she was really good at. Her nature-inspired pieces were eye-catching: multi-colored monstera leaves, intricately layered bouquets with contrasting flowers and grasses, and ravens with shimmering wings. 

Wilm says she draws at a seventh-grade level, but it translates enough into creating stained glass.

“Secretly, I’m not that good of an artist,” she demurs. 

Friends and family were her first customers. Next, she turned to Instagram to expand her reach. She says most of her pieces, priced at hundreds of dollars, would sell within 10 minutes of posting them. 

Now, Wilm has 120,000 followers on Instagram and customers around the world. 

One of her current projects is a 400-piece pastel-themed peacock for a customer in Canada. This is the most complex piece Wilm has attempted, and although admitting she may have gone overboard with the design, she’s proud of the progress she’s made. 

“How can you simplify a peacock? If you simplify a peacock, it loses its beauty,” she says. 

On Aug. 2, Wilm officially opened the doors of Colorado Glass Works in a small space on the East End of Pearl Street. Passersby often pause to look at her completed pieces through large street-facing windows, or to watch Wilm and her employees at work cutting, soldering or grinding. 

Meggy shows off one of her newer collaborative pieces, ‘Downfall of a Queen’, during an afternoon visit to her studio. The piece is for sale, priced at $1,978. Photo by Will Matuska.

Now, customers can buy from her selection online or from her studio. Wilm still finds it special that people are interested in buying her art. 

“I think there’s just something in my head saying only my mother could truly love my art.” 

Tyler Kimball, owner of Monarch Glass Studio in Kansas City, Missouri, is on the board of the Stained Glass Association of America, which recently gave Wilm a professional membership — something Kimball says “is not given to many people.”

“I’ve never met anybody like her,” he says. “I think a lot of people think they are like her, where they set out to do something and they have visions of grandeur to do it. But [Meggy] actually follows through in a big way.”

It’s not just her craft that impresses Kimball — it’s the dedication, hard work and creativity that she’s used to achieve her goals. 

A sheet of mouth-blown sheet glass from Monarch Glass Studio in Kansas City, Missouri. Courtesy Monarch Glass Studio.

Kimball has partnered with Wilm to sell mouth-blown sheet glass, a technique Kimball specializes in. It’s one of the rarest types of stained glass, and most sought after by top tier artists. It is unique, beautiful and difficult to create — only two shops create mouth-blown sheet glass in the U.S.  

“[Mouth-blown sheet glass] has something in it that nothing else has — it’s got life,” says Kimball, who has been running Monarch Glass Studio for seven years. 

Now, from her studio on Pearl, Wilm is the sole distributor of Kimball’s mouth-blown sheet glass in North America. She uses the valuable glass in her own pieces, but also wants to see others buy the sheet glass and learn the craft.

Wilm offers stained glass classes for beginners, organizes open studio time for those who need space to work on glass projects, and donates 10% of her profits to her favorite environmental charities.  

“I’m meant to create stained glass. I love it. And I know I’m meant to do big things with it,” she says.

From sitting cross-legged on her living floor to owning her own studio, Wilm will continue carving out space in the Boulder community for stained glass and, as she says, sometimes “make pretty cool stuff.”  

Email: [email protected]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here