Check out Boulder’s new stained glass shop

Self-taught artist and entrepreneur Meggy Wilm recently opened a new stained glass shop and studio on Pearl Street called Colorado Glassworks. In addition to Wilm’s stunning creations, the store, located at 1500 Pearl St. Ste. D, will offer classes and open studio sessions.

We chatted with Wilm, 29, to learn more about his history, stained glass as an art form, and what to expect in his new brick-and-mortar location.

Photo courtesy of Meggy Wilm

What is your background and how did you get into stained glass?

I grew up in Littleton and had very supportive parents who saw value in involving their children in hobbies. I was a kid with a lot of energy and ADHD, so they put me in an art class – then another and another and another. I tried so many different mediums as a kid and jumped all over the place, but never had anything that pulled me in one direction. Growing up, I continued to make art. I went to CU Boulder and after college I was in this weird limbo phase and just wanted to research and try new hobbies. Something my parents had always taught me was that when you rebuild and narrow down your life, you have to invest in yourself.

I thought you needed industrial machinery to be able to learn stained glass, but after a Google search I found that I could take a class and learn at a local workshop. I took this community course and found all the tools I needed. I did it once and haven’t put it down in five years. It was this really nice mix of the same creative flexibility as a lot of other art that I had, but there was also this really rigid technical aspect where you fit things into a frame, math is important when you’re building things for structural stability. It was this fun, rigid but very free medium.

How did the hobby develop into a business?

I started making small gifts. I wanted any excuse to create. I was giving gifts for friends, then I thought maybe I could give gifts for strangers, and the income I make from those gifts could fund the hobby. I ventured online and started selling on Instagram; I created an Instagram page. I grew through word of mouth. A lot of it was good customer service and learning, I really valued the interactions I had with people. Glass is very personal. I was making pieces to honor people or pets that had passed away, or sentimental keepsakes. I was doing scenes that were precious to their family.

I also had a day job – I still do – in marketing consulting and a lot of what we did was social media. And at the time, I didn’t know anything about social networks, I don’t use it personally. But I thought it would be pretty cool to learn how to work with social media, but to do it with my drink and watch myself grow as I post projects. I also thought I could figure out how to grow organically on social media. I had a goal of reaching a certain number of followers and I achieved it after two years, and then there was exponential growth after that. More people paid me to do stuff, I reached more people, my friends and clients shared me, and pretty quickly my following doubled and tripled. It keeps growing like a weed in a good way.

Photo courtesy of Meggy Wilm

How has stained glass evolved over time?

For a very long time stained glass was something you had in your local church, it was something your grandmother had in her front door – the kind of tacky old tulip windows with color and clear glass all around. What has been interesting as social media has grown is that it has opened up this opportunity for a reinterpretation of this truly traditional practice. And people don’t want to paint Jesus anymore – there’s nothing wrong with painting Jesus – but we figured out that we don’t have to do those traditional classic designs, we can draw our own designs by hand and use crazy colors, use acrylic glass which is vacuum made and sprayed with crystals and metal oxides on it. The glass that is available these days almost needs to be reinvented in some way. A lot of us are figuring out that we can really turn this traditional medium into something much more modern and we can create crazy things with it.

Photo courtesy of Meggy Wilm

What inspires you as an artist?

I’m just very inspired by color. I like the color. I like rainbow things. Nature is always a very fun subject to study. But again, going back to ADHD, I can go in so many different directions with topics and themes. The material you play with is inspiring. Sometimes I see a sheet of glass and I have an idea. Sometimes I have an idea and I go get the glass. It’s not just one thing that’s inspiring. It’s the color, the materials, the subject. Especially if I do a custom order, my clients choose what I do and it’s up to me to interpret it artistically.

What are the biggest misconceptions about making stained glass?

When people think of stained glass, they think you probably need a machine shop and heavy machinery to do it. But it’s something you could do at a table in your garage. Now, there are a lot of expenses related to it, but anyone can do it. The stages are not difficult, there are just a lot of them. It’s easier than people think.

Photo courtesy of Meggy Wilm

Why did you decide to open a physical store?

I had grown so big, I was working from home in a bedroom and I was running out of space to work. I had three tables in my house and I was running out of space. My dream is to make bigger rooms, and the workbenches I had at home weren’t big enough for me to make two-by-two-foot windows, for example.

The other half was that the glass industry was dying in Denver. When I started, I bought all my tools in a store that was closing. There is a large wholesale warehouse in Denver that sells stained glass and that’s basically it for the Denver metro area. There is no stained glass shop in the city of Boulder. I love this art so much and especially during COVID so many people have discovered it and are just hungry to learn. It changed my life and I wanted to be able to offer that and allow that to reach other people. There needs to be more young people owning stained glass shops and carrying on this tradition and teaching people how to do it. I want it to continue for years to come.

Photo courtesy of Meggy Wilm