June 2010: Coneflowers in stained glass by Phyllis Bigelow
Header image: Coneflowers in stained glass by Phyllis Bigelow

Featured Artist: Phyllis Bigelow

Last updated: June 1, 2010

..Phyllis Bigelow .

Phyllis Bigelow

We contacted Phyllis Bigelow because we were interested in her stained glass work, and got a real bonus when she sent photos of her hooked rugs as well. Phyllis is a member of the “Group of Seven”—enthusiastic rug hookers who meet with Joan Muckelbauer in Alberta House to share their rug hooking experience. Others in the group, like Phyllis, are experienced artists in other mediums, and it is interesting to see how the finished product is so true to the artist that one can recognize the creator, regardless of the medium she chooses. This is very true of Phyllis’ work. Her strong compositions, her use of intense colors, the manipulation of textures and the overall bright clarity of her designs transcend the medium.

Phyllis began working with stained glass in the late Seventies, after taking a local stained glass class, and continued to hone her skills through practice and reading. She now designs all her own work. Unlike a lot of stained glass artists who stick to sun catchers and small panels to hang in windows, Phyllis also designs windows and does stained glass repair—work requiring different construction techniques. (She points out that a stained glass bathroom window requires no curtains.) Three of her stained glass windows have been installed in the dance and music instruction room doors of the Soo Theatre—her donation to that enterprise. Her first juried show was the 2008 “Blues” show in the Olive Craig Gallery, which included three of her stained glass panels.

Stained glass work and rug hooking have more in common than one might think. In both the focus is on color, texture, and design. Both require a design that must be carefully laid out down to the last detail before one can begin. In hooked rugs, once the design has been laid out, the yarn must be assembled, and often the craftsman must dye it herself. With stained glass the glass (with attention to color and texture) must be chosen and cut. Both projects must fit into a previously chosen frame. Both employ strong colors and rely on texture to create an illusion of depth and perspective.

Phyllis always loved her art classes in school, but didn’t pursue art in college, opting instead for a BA in History and Secondary Education with minors in English and Psychology. Still, she has always been interested in art and design and especially interested in architecture. She indulges in these interests when traveling (another passion), and the results can be seen in her hooked rug designs. Stained glass and ancient structures go together, especially in Europe, so her interests dovetail quite nicely.

Both her art forms are very labor-intensive, so amassing enough work for a show is daunting. The Group of Seven (rug hookers) had work in the Bayliss Library and some of the group have shown rugs with their other art, but only Joan Muckelbauer has had enough for a show of her own. To date, most of Phyllis’ hooked rugs have been for herself and her family, although she will have rugs for sale when the Group of Seven exhibits in Alberta House in May of 2011.

Phyllis has taught stained glass classes and has demonstrated in Alberta House. Her current project is a hooked rug showing her great grandparents’ homestead on old Hay Lake Road, a work inspired by an old photo. Phyllis’ stained glass work is mainly done on commission and she repairs windows and other stained glass items as well. She can be contacted at 632-8874.

Works by Phyllis Bigelow
Click on a thumbnail to see a larger version.

Stained Glass Panel by Phyllis Bigelow

Stained Glass Panel

Stained Glass Panel by Phyllis Bigelow

Stained Glass Panel

Coneflowers in stained glass by Phyllis Bigelow

Coneflowers in Stained Glass

Stained Glass Panel by Phyllis Bigelow

Stained Glass Panel

Welsh Castle Hooked Rug by Phyllis Bigelow

Welsh Castle Hooked Rug

Iroquois Point Lighthouse Hooked Rug by Phyllis Bigelow

Iroquois Point Lighthouse Hooked Rug

Loire Valley Castle Hooked Rug by Phyllis Bigelow

Loire Valley Castle Hooked Rug

Sault Area Arts Council Home Page 217 Ferris Street, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
e-mail: saac@saultarts.org Phone: (906) 635-1312