Copper in the Arts

December 2013

The Anatomy of Copper

By Courtney H. Diener-Stokes

stained glass anatomical heartA selection of stained glass anatomical heart Bitter Ornaments by Jackie Witkin Raszeja.

Artist Jackie Witkin Raszeja has always been obsessed with color and light. Her preference for difficult, time consuming and precise work led her to take up stained glass five years ago.

“It takes a lot of concentration and it teaches me to be patient, which I’m not,” she says. “ I have definitely learned a lot of patience through a lot of broken glass.”

With a background in painting from Philadelphia University School of Design & Engineering (formerly the Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science), but no formal training in stained glass other than a 10-week stained glass course focusing on tools, Raszeja delved into a unique approach to the art by focusing on subject matter one might not typically associate with stained glass.

“I really think stained glass needs to be appreciated more than in churches,” she says. “Glass is beautiful but we don’t always have to make something traditional.”

This approach leads her to deliver artistic interpretations of things such as anatomical hearts and tattoo themes. Copper is essential to Raszeja’s work.

“I don’t know what I would do without it,” she says. “I tend to use really irregular shaped pieces (of glass). Copper works better because you can move it around the piece easily. You can cover any piece with copper tape. Lead isn’t as pliable as copper foil.”

The process of creating American Traditional Glass from start to finish.The process of creating American Traditional Glass from start to finish.

Raszeja described how she wraps each piece of glass in copper foil.

“When you put it all together you put it all down so it fits really tightly like a puzzle,” she says. “Then you solder it with Flux that acts as the lubricant to get the solder to flow.”

She purchases most of her copper foil at Rainbow Stained Glass, a stained glass supply store in Bristol, Pennsylvania.

“It is really cool because it comes in different widths and you can actually use it as it’s own decorative feature if you want,” she says. “To give it a more dramatic soldered look, you can use wider tape.”

Double Distle-Love Stained GlassDouble Distle-Love Stained Glass by Jackie Witkin Raszeja.

Raszeja also enjoys the ability to be able to select different finishes, located on the back of the foil, that is offered in black, silver or copper.

“I always match the end finish of the solder to the copper foil back color,” she says. “I like that you can really customize it to how you want the end product to be.”

Her work is sold primarily on her site Bitter Pill and through word of mouth, in addition to the occasional fine craft show. On her website you can find such items as terrariums, windows, ornaments, cranes and hearts.

“My love is making windows,” she says, most of which are custom made. Raszeja credits her interest in pushing the boundaries of the medium to glass artist Judith Schaechter. “She is my idol."


Jackie Witkin Raszeja, Bitter Pill, Flourtown, PA

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