A monthly column that keeps its finger on the pulse of Forsyth’s artists and their inspiring stories
BY TARYN JEREZ
This month’s featured artist, Kelly Mayo, has taken to tools like light and legacy to bring us the modern and playful edge to the long-standing art of stained glass. She embraces not only a medium that isn’t seen widely throughout the mainstream art scene, but a mindset to match.
Kelly Mayo | Camel City Glass
How do you describe your work? CCG (Camel City Glass) is a modern stained glass shop that brings color and texture into your home. I make everything from large, traditional leaded panels to whimsical suncatchers, ornaments and plant stakes, and even glass pet portraits.
When did you start working with stained glass? I actually learned from watching my mom. She commissioned someone to create beautiful stained glass windows in our home, and that sparked her interest. I made my first piece with her supervision at 16. When I started diving back into stained glass three years ago, she handed down her own tools and materials she had held onto through the years. It’s fun to think about and be able to feel that connection to her when I’m creating.
What influences your work most? I try to really be present in what’s going on in my life and find inspiration there. Sometimes it’s a song; sometimes it’s something random like a children’s book. Some artists focus on very specific aesthetics, whereas I find I’m often inspired by what feels exciting to me at the moment. I want the pieces I make to honor the different sides of who I am. Some days I feel “soft and feminine,” while other days, I’m a “take no prisoners attitude,” and you can see it reflected in each piece. Even if I look at a piece and think, “nobody is going to buy this,” it gives me that freedom to create without the pressure.
How do you carve out space for art that’s so unique? I want stained glass to have the same kind of “glow up” that gardening has experienced. Suddenly everyone wants to live in a jungle, and having lots of plants and large gardens is the cool thing to do. I show people that stained glass isn’t just for churches or really old houses. It can be unique and small and special. I want them to get excited about glass and what they can do with it!
How have you evolved as an artist?
My work has changed so much over time from traditional to modern, to quirky to eclectic, to what is now all of them represented. Once I found my skill, I gave myself permission to really sink into it. I knew I wanted something that had a barometer to measure my skill against and push me towards growth. Stained glass definitely has that factor and it allows me to keep pushing further and further. I’ve learned not to put any expectations on myself when I’m creating to sell and that makes a big difference.
When did you start selling your pieces? I started following other stained glass artists on Instagram as I was growing in my abilities and style. The more I grew my skill and the more I shared my pieces, they began organically selling.
As a mother, how do you get to share your art and business with your family? My family is very supportive and everyone is involved. I have five-year-old triplets; two girls and a boy. They are my little co-pilots helping me with deliveries to local customers. My husband helps with the business side of Camel City Glass and is my walking advertisement, always telling people about me and CCG.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to share with fellow artists? Take a class and always keep learning! Locally, Sawtooth School for Visual Art offers stained glass workshops. Really hone your craft and make it yours. It’s so easy to feel discouraged when you’re first starting out, so remember that it takes a lot of research and practice, and it’s worth saving up and investing in some good tools!
If you are interested in learning more about the artist Kelly Mayo and Camel City Glass, you can catch her at Incendiary Brewery on April 18th or Wiseman Brewery on May 9th as a featured Catbird Craft Market vendor. You can also check out Kelly’s website www.camelcityglass.com or follow the CCG account on Instagram @camelcityglass.