Creating Gorgeous Glass in Consett.
PUBLISHED: 13:58 09 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:19 20 February 2013
If renowned stained glass creator Maralyn O'Keefe hadn't have fallen ill several years ago, she would still be working in an office Words and pictures by Helen Johnson
Maralyn OKeefe makes stained glass. She loves her work, bubbling with enthusiasm for every commission - currently a window for a school, incorporating the childrens pictures of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.
Its typical of her approach. She explains: All my work is commissioned, so the end result is the customers. Making something that they really want gives me huge pleasure.
Maralyn designs in a range of styles. For one client, she says: I did Frank Lloyd Wright style - very geometric. I always visit a clients home, to get ideas from seeing their decor, etc. Some want traditional style, others want modern.
Maralyn comments that many people live in a house thats around 160 years old, but have modernised it. She says: A house like that would not have had stained glass originally. So I often suggest they have a 21st century design to go with their modernisation.
Commissions are often for doors, fan lights, or room dividers where interior walls have been knocked down. The glass still lets the light through in filtered colours.
Maralyn also does church work, and mentions the tower of St Godrics in Durham. She says: Lit at night, you view the stained glass from outside.
Its rare for her to see her finished work. I do a window in my studio, then the joiner takes it to fit - and I never get round to visiting because Im too busy with the next job.
Its a far cry from when Maralyn began. That was back in the 1990s, when Maralyn had a full-time office job and was studying art in her own leisure time.
Disaster struck when she became so ill she had to leave her job, at the same time as husband Ron was made redundant. Ron realised, with jobs hard to find, that they had to do something for themselves, so he began selling Maralyns glass art.
They moved on to open a shop, where, as well as Maralyns work, they stock art and gifts. Maralyn says: Were not like normal art or gift shops - were both. People say its like an Aladdins cave.
Its become a centre for glass, with another studio occupied by young stained glass artist Catherine Langridge, and Maralyn teaching weekend courses. She says: People come with a view to making their own window.
And because we also supply stained glass materials, everything they need is on hand.
The gallery is in Consett, and when they began, they were told it would never work. But after their busiest year yet, Maralyn says: If I hadnt been so ill, Id still be working in an office. So it worked out well.
Maralyn OKeefes studio and gallery are at the Glass and Art Gallery, Medomsley Road, Consett. Tel 01207 583 353. For the website please go to www.glassdesignuk.com