Bradford resident Tiina Lehtola, owner of 'Creations by T' is a new vendor at the Bradford Harvest Market on Holland Street West and is “breaking glass” just in time for Christmas ornaments and other gifts.
Lehtola began making stained glass pieces 15 years ago and primarily only made angels for friends and family members.
In 2000, she obtained her first stained glass kit and began taking lessons where she learned to break glass. Her kit included glass, a grinder, soldering iron, “nippers” (glass cutters), foil strips, and various chemicals.
“It’s a lot of hands-on learning with technique to break the glass," explains Lehtola. “When you start breaking expensive glass, that’s when things get interesting”.
Lehtola used to be an event planner and worked in the TV industry. She moved to Bradford in October 2019 and began researching various local vendor events like Carrot Fest, where she could sell her stained-glass creations. But then Covid-19 hit and Lehtola had no where to showcase her glass pieces.
“My landlord told me about the new Harvest Market,” shares Lehtola who conveniently lives on John Street, in walking distance to the market. “I spoke to Liz (owner) and arrived two weeks after the opening."
Since Lehtola’s arrival to the market, she has been making glass pieces every weekend to stock up with items in time for Christmas, concentrating on mitts and booties, angels, hearts, Santas, and flowers.
“I like to decorate the glass pieces with silver chains and little adornments,” states Lehtola, adding that she begins the process as early as 5:30 a.m. “I’m working on finding a signature piece right now to focus on."
The process of breaking glass and creating her pieces is in-depth and meticulous according to Lehtola. First, she must decide what she wants to make before drawing a pattern on bristol board and cutting out pieces to trace onto the glass. Then she begins cutting the glass with her “nippers”.
“So, for example, a bird ornament, I would cut the feathers, then use a grinder to smooth out the edges,” explains Lehtola. “The ultimate goal is to run my fingers all around the piece without bumps or cuts."
Lehtola then takes all the pieces and applies a foil to the edges in order to solder the glass pieces together using “flux” (a chemical).
“I draw a nice ‘bead’ to join the pieces together because you don’t want to see where the pieces have been joined… it’s a covering,” notes Lehtola.
The pieces are then washed thoroughly and Lehtola makes either silver or black soldering lines, then polishes the piece before adding any final touches, like a ring hole to hang from.
“I prefer glass that has textured glass – I feel it really enhances my pieces,” expresses Lehtola, adding that her flowers are made with textured glass.
Lehtola’s pieces range from $3 (small Christmas tree ornaments) to larger pieces ranging from $35-$100.
“Red is a very expensive glass as there’s more of a process to produce the colour,” notes Lehtola.
Creations by T can be found at the Bradford Harvest Market every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from open to close.