Kannapolis artisan Yolonda Shimpock has spent nearly 30 years perfecting the craft of constructing stained glass creations.She recently relocated her professional studio, Celestial Glasworks, to 664 N. Cannon Blvd. in the historic Jackson Park area of Kannapolis. Shimpock specializes in original artwork design, fabrication and installations commissioned for private residences, liturgical settings, medical facilities, restaurants and small businesses. The full-service, professional studio also is qualified in historical restoration, repair, maintenance and appraisals.The 59-year-old has several thousand creations throughout Cabarrus County and the greater Charlotte region, she said. It generally takes multiple weeks to design her creations. “I am fortunate,” she said. “I can draw traditional, Victorian, art deco, contemporary and abstract. Frankly, after 29 years, I haven’t found any design I can’t produce in glass.”The Cabarrus native studied history at Lenoir-Rhyne University in hopes to become a museum curator but stumbled into the world of stained glass in 1984, while restoring a 100-year-old home in Greensboro with her late husband, Earl Miller.“He looked at the dining room door and said, ‘We need a stained glass window in that door,’ ” Shimpock said. “And I said, ‘Well, I think I can do that.’ ”Shimpock decided to fashion an apothecary’s rose, a historically rich and vibrant flower with semi-double, crimson-pink blooms and a golden center. She went to a local studio for supplies but admits she had no idea what to do. But after it was created and installed, an employee from where she got the supplies saw it and was so impressed that he encouraged her to fill out an job application. Years later, after an ownership change, she was hired as an apprentice stained glass artist.“I found out the former owner put me off for four years because he did not believe women should be in this profession,” said Shimpock. “By this time, the company changed its name to Architectural Concepts, and I was with them for 10 years. That’s where I perfected my talent.”Shimpock said her profession is one of America’s oldest. She hopes her works inspire others to want to learn the art form and help keep it alive. Her studio is one of a handful of professional studios throughout the state, she said. True professionals are highly-trained and far more skilled than an average hobbyist.“When you consider that stained and leaded glass was made by hand on the grounds of a 14th century cathedral… this profession, even the hobby aspect, has lasted through wars, depression, recession and everything in between,” said Shimpock. “It is the young folks who see a stained glass window in a church or home – who feel a sense of energy looking at the way light plays according to the time of day – and say to themselves ‘I have to know how to do this.’ This is the person who needs to be in professional studios, and this is the type of person that will continue this profession.”Curt Vogt is Shimpock’s longtime friend and general manager at The Vintage Motor Club in Gibson Mill, where her work is on display.He said it’s easy for people to be taken aback by the beauty and detail of her well-crafted creations, but he is afraid a time could come where there are no longer people who possess the expertise to create new designs or repair existing works.“She is one of the last true stained glass/leaded glass artisans in the state,” said Vogt. “Stained glass craftsmanship dates back centuries and is now almost extinct as an art form. Yolonda has studied extensively over the years and has toiled endlessly perfecting her craft.”Vogt said he most admires her original concepts and designs.“For years, I would find myself in a church admiring the highly-detailed stained glass windows, wondering how stained glass was designed, created and constructed,” said Vogt. “I used to think you just ordered the pieces and just put them together like a jigsaw puzzle. It wasn’t until I met Yolonda that I learned how intricate a process it is….”
Friday, Dec. 07, 2012
Stained glass artisan opens Kannapolis studio
Professional craftsperson hones skills over three-decades
Yolonda Shimpock peaks out from a set of stained-glass doors she created. In the business nearly 30 years, she said she has several thousand creations throughout Cabarrus County and the greater Charlotte region. LUKAS JOHNSONfirstname.lastname@example.org
Yolonda Shimpock spends up to two weeks or more to create just the designs behind the more ornate, large-scale stainedglass projects. She specializes in residential, commercial, liturgical and restoration and repairs of stained, leaded, beveled and fused glass creations.
Sheets of stained glass vary in color and texture. Yolonda Shimpock, owner of Celestial Glasworks in Kannapolis, purchases materials from throughout America, Europe and even Japan. LUKAS JOHNSONemail@example.com
Yolonda Shimpock's clients range from local churches to small business owners to homeowners. She has specialized in stained, leaded, beveled and fused glass for nearly three decades. San Francisco was the inspiration behind this abstract piece in her Kannapolis studio. LUKAS JOHNSONfirstname.lastname@example.org
This stained-glass creation is on display in Celestial Glasworks studio on N. Cannon Boulvard in Kannapolis. Details: www.celestialglasworks.com. LUKAS JOHNSONemail@example.com
This ornate and vivid butterfly is just one of several thousand creations made by Kannapolis native Yolonda Shimpock. COURTESY OF CELESTIAL GLASWORKS
Yolonda Shimpock made this piece, "Shattered," for Hospice and Palliative Care of Cabarrus County. The white streaks are meant to represent hope. COURTESY OF CELESTIAL GLASWORKS
Learn more What: Celestial Glasworks specializes in original artwork design, fabrication, and installations commissioned for private residences, liturgical settings, medical facilities, restaurants and small businesses; as well as historical restoration, repair, maintenance and appraisals. Classes also are offered. Where: 664 N. Cannon Blvd., Kannapolis. Details: 704-796-2260 or celestialglasworks.com.