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Window into Her World

suzeSuzie O’Reilly has been creating works of stained glass art for 35 years.

There’s always a project or restoration going on in the back of O’Reilly’s Stained Glass Co. in downtown Crystal Lake. Owner Suzie O’Reilly takes pride in hand-making beautiful stained glass windows, lamps and jewelry.

Her windows can be seen at The Pointe in Crystal Lake, Raue Center For The Arts in Crystal Lake, South Street Hospital Chapel in Woodstock, Centegra Hospital on Doty Road, and numerous local residences. She also creates custom pieces for weddings such as candle holder centerpieces and waves with newlyweds’ last name for the head table.

Anyone Can Learn

When she’s not working on custom orders, O’Reilly, “The Bevel Queen,” is leading classes. Her nickname stems from her love of beveled glass. “There is a beauty and dancing of colors you get when the sunlight hits the bevel prisms,” she said.

Classes, which are the majority of her business, include stained glass, mosaics, jewelry tiles and bead making. From teenagers to seniors, O’Reilly offers a class for every age and every level.

“There’s nothing you can’t do with glass,” she said. “I try to teach students not to hold back and encourage them to think outside of the box by using unique materials like natural geodes, stones and rocks. One of my students used a taxidermy eye on a fused eagle head piece.”

For many, stained glass is a relaxing hobby that yields colorful works of art.  “It’s therapeutic,” O’Reilly said. “Classes allow people to unwind and make friends.”

One point about stained glass production O’Reilly stresses above all others is the importance of quality tools, materials and machines.

Between the instruction and tool kit, beginners should expect to invest about $400 to learn how to create their first piece. “You will learn how to cut, design and put together at least one bevel window by the end of the course,” she promised.

O’Reilly feels fortunate to provide an outlet for stained glass creation in an economy that’s forced others to close shop and art to be cut from local schools. “Some people do better working with their hands,” she said, and they deserve options.

Lifelong Passion

Her own interest in stained glass began when she was a little girl playing with her seamstress grandma’s box of glass beads and buttons. “I’ve always liked glass,” she said.

It wasn’t until she and her sisters took a class in 1977 that the bug really bit her. After running a stained glass shop on Chicago’s North Side and later teaching through McHenry County College, she opened for business in downtown Crystal Lake in 1999.

You can see her work before you even walk in the door and it’s all for sale from small suncatchers to large doors and windows.

On April 21, she invites the public to celebrate her store’s anniversary with snacks, hot dogs and cake, plus specials. Find O’Reilly’s on Facebook to keep up on store events and more.

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