East Peoria native Bruce Resler has always been creative, and even became inspired to start painting with acrylics in high school. But he never considered a career as an artist, so he spent 34 years working in both retail and outside sales for a variety of companies. He found that selling other people’s products and services wasn’t very fulfilling, but he did learn a lot about customer service. In fact, aptitude tests showed that his two strengths were customer service and art.
Then one day 12 years ago Bruce saw a sign in Mossville advertising an “Art Glass Studio for Sale.” He stopped by the local Dairy Queen for a soda and went to check it out. He found a studio that specialized in stained glass overlay products, and it had an excellent 10-year reputation for customer service. “I knew right off the bat that I’d found something I could do,” he said. With his wife’s encouragement to follow his heart, he purchased the studio and threw himself into the stained glass overlay business.
As its name implies, stained glass overlay uses a custom printed mylar overlay applied to a solid sheet of glass rather than individually cut pieces. The leading is then painstakingly applied and burnished to create the look of separate pieces of glass. The end result looks very much like traditional stained glass, but offers artistic, structural and architectural advantages.
Since the overlay is applied to a single sheet of glass, there are no joints to leak or become loose over time. And it can be applied to any piece of glass, such as tempered or insulated glass, so there’s no compromise of safety or efficiency. It also affords the opportunity to put art glass anywhere you have glass without the constraints of traditional stained glass. As Bruce puts it, “We are not looking to replace what was invented in the 11th century, we are merely looking to give people the opportunity to have art glass in places they never thought of having it.”
Every piece is a custom design. The process begins with a consultation to determine the customer’s goals and style preferences, such as favorite colors and time of day, and a preference for symmetrical or asymmetrical design. Bruce then begins designing the piece, and takes whatever time is needed with the customer to fine tune the artwork. Bruce explained, “Other than the paint on the walls, it is the only thing in your house that you have 100% control over the design, the look, even the color and opacity of the material. You have total and complete control.”
When Bruce purchased the studio, he knew he had the right combination of art, business and customer skills to be successful. As Bruce describes it, “I had always dreamed of running my own business, and of being able to develop a customer base the way that I thought it should be developed. I also wanted to put policies in effect in my business that I had learned worked during the last 34 years working for other people.” Bruce’s approach keeps him busy with installations in Central Illinois and beyond, with customers in Chicago, St. Louis, Indiana and Kentucky.
His passion to create art runs deep, and Bruce still finds opportunities to create art for himself. The tree design in the photo was one he did for himself, just because he loves trees. He also enjoys painting as an escape. “I do it because I can find myself in a different place after I’ve been painting for an hour.” Though he has sold a few paintings, he’s quite happy to keep his painting as a personal pastime.
Bruce is thrilled with the freedom to be his own boss along with the opportunity to create art every day. Bruce sums it up, “I never considered that I could make a living in art because the money was too good in sales.” It turns out that he is living proof that Confucius was right when he said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Stained Glass Overlay of Central Illinois is located at 3921 N. Sheridan Road in Peoria, and is open 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Saturday. You can also contact Bruce by phone at (309) 679-1790 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and to see examples of Bruce’s work, visit the website at www.glassartpeoria.com.