I got into it by accident, trying to fix a window in my apartment in 2007. I was studying public history and historic preservation at Western Michigan University at Kalamazoo, MI. Two months from graduation, I got into this stuff and became fascinated by the hands on work. I realized I needed more information and I wasn’t prepared to enter a Master’s program at that time, so I enrolled at Belmont. Heard about Belmont through Sharon Ferraro who she had interned with (City of Kalamazoo HP Coordinator). Went to visit Belmont that summer and moved back to Detroit and was working on the windows of the house I was working in at that time. I realized I needed more info to do the work. Because of what I completed I was more encouraged. Went back again…enrolled in the program that Fall.
After I graduated from Belmont, I returned to Detroit and interned with Jim Turner of Turner Restoration. First building did windows at Pewabic Pottery. Caught this bug to work with my hands which is something I never thought I could do. Women, especially petite, are not encouraged to follow a hands-on job trend. Gained confidence and ability at Belmont. Gone off on my own and have my own business specializing in stained and leaded glass. Still learning things on my own which I see as a positive or negative challenge and have met a lot of great people and found the work very rewarding. I came to respect how old builindigs are constructed and the people who ddo the work.
I had met Jim Turner (PTN Member) in 2006, way before I started tinkering on windows, at an old house expo in Kalamazoo and kept running into him at other historic workshops. I’d even run into him in the lumber yard in Detroit so I reached out to him for an internship after Belmont. He provided me the opportunity to expand my hands-on skills and develop the communication skills that I would need to run my own business. He was my mentor. He has always been very helpful and willing to just talk about things. I can remember that people didn’t want to spend any money in 2008 and it was through Jim I was able to continue learning since he had been established for such a long time. Even in the last year, I’ve noticed the difference in the economic climate and people are a lot confident now.
I really enjoy seeing buildings on the inside and outside and meeting the people that own and care for them and being able to provide them with something that helps them. From something as simple as fixing a broken pane or redoing the whole window, being able to look at something and say I did that or I fixed that and the fact that it will there for many, many, more years.
Tap dancing. I find that I approach tap dancing the way I approach buildings and architectural history…preserving an art form…that is how I look at tap. I find it very fascinating. There really is only a handful of the real masters still left and they passed it on to their generation and it is now being passed down to me and I take that very seriously. It is something I did growing up and I rediscovered in the past five years. It is my therapy. It is a metnal and physical process and it is musical too, you get different sounds how you move your feet. It uses different parts of your mind than when I work on old houses even though my approach is the same. Like hands on work…you always keep learning. We call them tap masters or elders.
She does still go on jobs and she stays at the shop when I’m working. She has her own room. She loves people and loves being at the jobsite. I picked her up off the street last August. She is a pit bull/sharpie/beagle mix that I found near my old shop on the way back from getting some food. Flees worms, mange, everything…it has been great watching her grow and get healthy. I saw something in her that everybody else didn’t see, similar to the way I look at buildings. When Soldier (her former dog) passed, it was hard for me, I didn’t want a dog and felt nothing could take his place. Finding Rosie showed me that while nothing could replace Soldier, helping another dog allowed me to bring something unique back into my life.