We were told that when in St. Joseph we needed to check out Tobiason Studio. The company creates stained glass windows. The studio displays stained glass artwork in its gallery just south of the downtown area.
We finally made our way to the studio after a couple of previous attempts failed. We misread the gallery’s hours and they were closed when we arrived.
This time, however, we made it with about an hour to spare. We were not misled on needing to check the place out.
As you walk up to the studio, the stained glass artwork shines through the windows.
Inside, close-up views of the artwork leaves you impressed. So many pieces of glass so beautifully designed. Rick and Terri Rader have true talent to take a piece of glass and turn into something beautiful.
The studio creates stained glass windows for several churches. The religious market is their top demo. But, the Raders also host tours and classes. It’s not uncommon for a busload of tourists to show up in front of the store.
The artwork is available for private homes, as well. You can get a piece of stained glass artwork to hang in your house, or even as a window. The studio has worked with the Shakespeare Mansion bed and breakfast on its stained glass windows. We stayed there over the summer and the artwork is amazing.
So, how do the Raders come up with their masterpieces? Rick, Terri and Rick’s sister Shelley brainstorm ideas until they come up with something they all think will be interesting and attractive.
Shelley is the artist and does the pencil drawings, Rick said. Her work is impressive based on the drawings I saw.
The process of taking it from idea to final product seems interesting. After they discuss ideas and Shelley creates the drawing, the need to cut glass comes into play. Then, each painted piece needs to be “fired” in a kiln up to 15 times for the paint to stay. Once that work is done, the pieces (at one time numbered on back for layout purposes) are laid out. Then the sealant is poured over the work. Once dried and hardened, the stained glass art is finished.
The Raders have been in business for almost 25 years. They started their own studio in 1990, when they both worked for Quaker Oats Company. Then, in 1998, they bought the Tobiason Studio. The owner was ready to retire but was concerned about losing the name. Rick and Terri bought the studio and kept the name. They’ve been in their current location for five years, including the last three as owners of the building.
“We started in a 12×22 room. Now we have 32,000 square feet,” Rick said, seemingly in amazement at their growth.
In addition to their artwork, the Raders display area artists’ works. They are strong art supporters.
The Raders are terrific people. They will take the time to talk with visitors about everything related to the studio, even for out-of-towners who just beat closing time.
For more information on the Tobiason Studio, please visit their website at http://www.tobiasonstudio.com/.