MCNABB — What started as a craft class at the Hennepin Steel Mill has turned into a profitable hobby for Tamara Schrowang. As the owner of Clear Creek Stained Glass; she’s made dozens of works of art with colored and textured glass and a lot of creativity.
“I worked at the Hennepin Steel Mill for over 20 years, and during that time, our union had an IC program. We had a guest instructor come out to one of the plant’s outbuildings and give classes,” Schrowang said. “I took the class on a whim, and I fell in love with it. I went out and bought a grinder and some glass and started in a corner in the basement.”
Schrowang’s business swelled as she worked her way out of the basement and into a section of her garage. Six years ago, she outgrew her garage and built her studio where she works today in addition to working at D&M Landscaping in Spring Valley. She loves the challenges the hobby brings.
“It’s a lot of fun. Nothing’s ever the same with it. Every sign is different, even if I’m making multiples of something, there’s always something just a little bit different with each one,” Schrowang said. “I used to work swing shift, and when I got off work, I’d come out here and work. Sometimes I’d be here until 3 o’clock in the morning because it’s relaxing to me.
“I don’t know if you’d call it a dying art, but it’s just not something you see a lot of,” Schrowang said. “It’s not a cheap hobby, but it’s so rewarding when a customer comes out and says, ‘I have this thought, this design; what can you do for me?’ and it makes me feel great when a customer says, ‘That’s exactly what I wanted.’”
Schrowang uses a lot of books for inspiration and does her initial designs on the computer in her workshop with a CAD program. From there, she will mark her glass on a lightboard before cutting and grinding each piece to fit her pattern. It’s a time-consuming process with an individual finished product taking seven or more hours to complete.
Schrowang is branching out and now does painted flagstones as well. Several are on display in her shop, and like her stained glass windows, she’s happy to do custom work.
Clear Creek Stained Glass is located at 4026 Swaney Road, McNabb. Call the shop at 815-882-2669 or visit her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Clear-Creek-Stained-Glass.