After a decade in the music industry, Brenna Chase realized she was ready to turn the tables and claim the creative role for herself. Instead of music, however, Chase chose to pursue the historic arts of stained glass and gold leaf, both of which have been around for centuries. “No one really does both stained glass and gold leaf, but they really spoke to me,” says Chase. “They’re both delicate, but when done right they can last forever.”
After receiving her certification in historic preservation and restoration in Astoria, Oregon, Chase moved back to New York City and began honing her skills as a craftsperson, primarily working with studios that specialized in stained glass and gold leaf signage for historic homes. In 2018, Chase decided to move upstate, closer to where she had gone to college at Bard and began her music industry career in Woodstock. In quiet Rosendale, she found the space to open her own workshop, Willow Deep Studio, where she could finally combine both of her loves under one roof.
Today, Chase specializes in original stained glass as well as gold leaf or painted signage, architectural gold leaf, and restoration and repair for residential and commercial clients. In particular, she relishes the process of translating these traditional artforms into a modern aesthetic.
Her stained glass work includes everything from custom pieces based on clients' childhood memories to minimalist spins on historic window designs. “People will come to me with stained glass windows that have been in their families for decades looking to adapt the design to fit a new space in their home,” Chase says.
Her selection of glass, accumulated over the years from distributors and retired stained glass studios, allows her to play with the different textures offered by cathedral, opaque, or clear glass and a rainbow of hard-to-source colors.
In an age when both her artforms have to compete with the low cost and speed of mass-produced works, Chase sees more value than ever in working with her hands. “There’s this balance of perfection and the natural imperfections that exist when something is done by human hands,” she says. “It's very important to me that crafts like these originated by artisans centuries ago still exist in the world today.”