Stained glass artist one of 20 Marketplace vendors in Branford

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Talk about whimsical.

On the workbench in Jayne Crowley’s backyard studio in Branford sits a glass-encased miniature greenhouse with tiny plant pots on the surfaces and hanging from the ceiling. Next door: a dollhouse-sized flower stand displaying brightly colored seasonal flowers.

“There will be more,” said the feisty glass artist, 76, of the flower-themed village she has her sights set on for this weekend’s vendor market which is part of the flower show “Gardens Around the World” from the Branford Garden Club.

The event runs from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 24 and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, September 25 at the Joe Trapasso Community House.

“It’s so much fun doing this, and you know what — I probably wouldn’t even have done the show if I hadn’t dropped the other studio last year,” she said, at amidst the soft purr of a fan.

The other studio, which was pocketed in the Hilltop Orchards building, was one of a series of spaces in Branford that Crowley occupied during a 45-year career as JC ArtGlass Designs, an established leader in the restoration and manufacture of handcrafted stained glass windows.

“Jayne has had an extraordinary impact restoring and safeguarding the history of architectural stained glass in New England, as well as countless works of art and repairs to homes and businesses,” said Francis Barkyoumb of Glass Dance Studio. in Branford.

About leaving the studio, “I was always really busy, I finished a job and there were four more waiting,” Crowley said. “And church restorations, I’ve done a lot, and it’s a lot of heavy work, and the body is tired.”

She knew, she said, “it was time and I thought I couldn’t give up the glass, it’s kind of like giving up the glass, I couldn’t breathe. It’s just a part of me.

She had worked there since 1973 or 1974. “I went to chemistry school and I hated it,” she says. Then she moved to Colorado. It was in the early seventies.

“It was a few years of total play, everyone tried everything, you did pottery for a week, you did photography,” she recalls.

Then she came back. “I thought ‘I’m not going to be a great photographer, I’m not going to be a great potter, let me try glass’ and I never looked back.”

Fast forward to last year. Crowley had abandoned his studio. She was in her kitchen. She saw his cabin. It was just a regular shed, “full of lawn mowers, rakes, mice and other things that live in a shed,” she said.

But there was electricity.

She retained the services of Red, the legendary jack-of-all-trades of Short Beach, told him that she wanted to replace the walls of the shed with windows.

“I had all these old picture frames and I gave him a piece of paper with all their measurements, and his eyes lit up in fear,” she recalled with a laugh.

Last April, she moved in.

“I love this space,” she says, looking around in some wonder. “It’s so conducive to creation. It’s got all those funky windows, but I used clear textured glass so I didn’t lose the light, and it’s so fun to look at.

She pointed to three windows near the entrance.

“These came out of one of the old houses of the Loews Poli estates in Milford,” she said. “I renovated all the windows in this house, then the new owners had to have new frames made, without knowing why, and I ended up with them.”

Eventually she said, “I’ll have stained glass in all of them.” It’s a matter of finding the time to do it all.

But first there is the stained glass window she is making for her niece. There is also the “waiting area” for the sad collection of broken lamps. (She’s still doing some repairs.) And, of course, the flower-themed miniature village to complete for the Garden Club show.

Although she found the repairs and restorations rewarding – “it’s good to know that the stained glass windows in the church will last another 120 years instead of continuing to disintegrate – I appreciate having more free time to be a little more creative,” she said.

This includes learning to paint on glass.

“It’s not like painting on anything else,” she says with a certain pleasure. “It’s going to be so much fun. I can not wait.

For more information about JC Artglass Designs, visit jcartglass.com or call 203-481-0408.

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