Tul­sa Stained Glass, Teach­ing How To Pick Up The Pieces And Put Them Togeth­er

CL Har­mon, Lead Author, Osage Nation Mem­ber

21 SEPTEMBER 2018

For over 1,000 years stained glass art has been a part of the cre­ative world. It is an art form that is like no oth­er in the world; a dec­o­ra­tion viewed in church­es, restau­rants, busi­ness­es and even some homes.  What is most inter­est­ing about stained glass is how it is used to con­vey a mes­sage or sto­ry. One such instance was its use in Medieval Times as visu­al accounts of Bib­li­cal sto­ries for those com­mon­ers who could not read the Bible.  Anoth­er instance was one I was not expect­ing. It was when I met Richard Bohm, own­er of Tul­sa Stained Glass Com­pa­ny.  This encounter would not be one of the art of telling a sto­ry, but of the artist telling how art was to become his sto­ry.

Expect­ing a sim­ple inter­view about the mechan­ics and the­o­ry of stained glass­works, I was sur­prised to learn about a man who stepped out on faith, suf­fered loss, found pur­pose and shared hope. Life is always a jour­ney and often what makes these jour­neys so inter­est­ing is how far we trav­el from the direc­tion from which we began the jour­ney. Bohm embarked on his life path using the left side of his brain as his com­pass. In oth­er words, he was using log­ic and math­e­mat­ics in a pro­fes­sion to prob­lem solve for oth­ers. It pro­vid­ed an income and a cer­tain amount of sta­bil­i­ty, but as with most jour­neys in life, there was a curve up ahead that would lead him into an entire­ly new direc­tion.

My wife Car­ol took a class on stained glass art, and she showed me how to do it. It was fun! That was 42 years ago,” Bohm said. The cou­ple began play­ing around with their new found hob­by at home and soon began to real­ize that there was a mar­ket for qual­i­ty stained glass. Although Bohm used the left side of his brain to earn a liv­ing at this time, he did exer­cise his cre­ative right side through his pho­tog­ra­phy hob­by. He had also been taught an appre­ci­a­tion for the arts by a high school teacher that obvi­ous­ly had a last­ing impact. The dis­cov­ery of stained glass art opened up that less­er used right brain, and it quick­ly became dom­i­nant. Using his skills from work­ing as a prob­lem solver, Bohm was able to mesh both sides of his brain into a fun and reward­ing career.

Pho­to­graph by CL Har­mon

Ini­tial­ly, the busi­ness start­ed in their din­ing room. Less than two years lat­er, the cou­ple moved to their first com­mer­cial loca­tion in Tul­sa. The busi­ness grew as they cre­at­ed and sold what Bohm calls “wid­gets” (var­i­ous pieces of stained glass art and sculp­tures). The growth con­tin­ued as cus­tomers would order cus­tom pieces or need repairs on exist­ing works of stained glass. The work kept them busy, and it was a labor of love for them. How­ev­er, life would bring Bohm anoth­er curve. This time it was a sharp one that he did not see com­ing. After 28 years of strug­gling and oper­at­ing the busi­ness togeth­er, Car­ol passed away. The art that had been his busi­ness, but now it need­ed to be some­thing else…a ther­a­pist.

While deal­ing with his grief, Bohm began ques­tion­ing if there was more to life. Although busi­ness was sta­ble, there were always lean times and cash flow issues. With the pass­ing of his wife, it was time to reflect and to heal. In his efforts to do so, he began tak­ing the busi­ness aspect out of his busi­ness and replac­ing it with the art that had appealed to him all those years ago.  It’s what he calls “self-ther­a­py.”

I began to devel­op a pas­sion for art, and that grew into self-ther­a­py. And from this came my new pas­sion of teach­ing oth­ers how to use art to solve prob­lems, self-ana­lyze and how to be hap­py,”

I began to devel­op a pas­sion for art, and that grew into self-ther­a­py. And from this came my new pas­sion of teach­ing oth­ers how to use art to solve prob­lems, self-ana­lyze and how to be hap­py,” Bohm said.  He began teach­ing oth­ers about the pow­er of hav­ing a pas­sion for art and how cre­at­ing some­thing releas­es inner heal­ing prop­er­ties and brings about answers to life’s ques­tions. It has been a win-win that keeps pay­ing off. In life, we are always look­ing to fit the pieces togeth­er and cre­ate an exis­tence that is our own work of art. For Bohm, those pieces in his life began to take on a new shape when he began teach­ing oth­ers to how to pick and assem­ble their pieces into a work of art.

He cur­rent­ly teach­es two class­es now at his store/studio locat­ed at 4131 S. Sheri­dan Road in Tul­sa. The first is a begin­ner class where he teach­es about the process and tech­nique that has been in prac­tice since the Mid­dle Ages. Each stu­dent is giv­en the same assign­ment which is designed by Bohm and focus­es on the fun­da­men­tals of cre­at­ing a pane of art such as a small win­dow which can be hung for dec­o­ra­tion. In this les­son, all of the pieces must touch and then be sol­dered togeth­er to become a sol­id pan­el. Class­es are avail­able on Thurs­day evenings sev­er­al times each year for 2.5-hour ses­sions run­ning for eight weeks.

Pho­to­graph by CL Har­mon

The sec­ond is called Gar­den Spir­it Sculp­tures class which is one ses­sion only but it is a “fun and intense” three-hour class. This class allows each stu­dent to choose their mate­ri­als and cre­ate a design of their choos­ing. In this les­son, the pieces do not have to inter­lock. Thus it is called a sculp­ture.  He empha­sizes that the pur­pose of these projects is to allow stu­dents to cre­ate some­thing that “feels good to them.” This feel­ing allows the stu­dents to dis­cov­er pas­sion and use their life expe­ri­ences to cre­ate some­thing tan­gi­ble while allow­ing the process to help them work through issues in their lives. These class­es are avail­able every Sat­ur­day.

What’s most inter­est­ing about Bohm is not that he was able to build a busi­ness out of an inter­est­ing hob­by, but that he has been able to build an inter­est in help­ing oth­ers through his busi­ness with these ther­a­peu­tic class­es. There is an excite­ment in his every word when he describes how art ther­a­py affects people’s lives. It has become a part of his iden­ti­ty; a self-sculp­ture of what his life has become.  So much so that he has even pub­lished a book on the sub­ject.  In addi­tion to his reg­u­lar class­es, he even teach­es pro­fes­sion­al ther­a­pists to use art ther­a­py to help their patients over­come chal­lenges.  Per­haps Bohm is onto some­thing. Peo­ple are always work­ing to pick up the bro­ken shards in their lives hop­ing to repair them. Bohm sim­ply con­nects these peo­ple to those who have been putting the pieces togeth­er for over 1,000 years by sol­der­ing bro­ken shards togeth­er to cre­ate some­thing new, whole and beau­ti­ful.

To learn more about Bohm’s class­es, vis­it his web­site tulsastainedglass.com. If you are inter­est­ed in pur­chas­ing his book, Expe­ri­ence the Pow­er of Art, they are avail­able on Ama­zon and at his store.

 

4 Comments

  1. 👍

    Reply
  2. Writ­ing this sto­ry was a real joy for me! I have always loved sur­pris­es and I was pleas­ant­ly sur­prised that Richard added so much more to this sto­ry than I had expect­ed. I hope every­one enjoys read­ing this unique sto­ry!
    CL

    Reply
  3. Thanks for read­ing and always sup­port­ing us!

    Reply
  4. What an AWESOME tes­ta­ment to life and the many twists it throws at you.

    Reply

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