In 2014, glass artist, author, and craftsman Scott Ouderkirk published The Wind in the Islands, his adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, reworked for the Thousand Island area of the St. Lawrence River where he lives. To accompany his book, Ouderkirk designed and created stained and fused glass panels, depicting relevant moments in his story.
The project was successful artistically, but also introduced a novel approach to marketing. By combining his skills as both author and artist, Ouderkirk’s The Wind in the Islands created an interdependent one-two punch of book and glass art sales. Local bookstores promoted the book, which resulted in increased glass sales. Glass panels on view at local exhibitions and at his gallery increased sales of the book. For the first time, his creations were bringing in money beyond the singular and initial sale of one object.
Ouderkirk earned his BS in Technical/Vocational Education from State University of New York, Oswego, New York; his MA in illustration from Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York; and his MFA in illustration from the University of Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut. His other books include The Amish Secret, Fallen Heroes, Sunday Drive, The Adirondack Run, Island Images, Barns, and Wood, Waves and Wispy Smoke.
Ouderkirk’s home and studio are located on River Road Farm, Hammond, New York. There, he and wife Mary Alice grow and raise their own food including vegetables, eggs, meat, honey, and cheese. On this self-sustaining homestead, you’re just as likely to see a bee hive as you are a stained glass panel. From repurposed parts of old wooden boats and barns, Ouderkirk built a place from which he created stained glass, although he now devotes most of his time to captaining wooden boats and hosting his YouTube channel on the subject under the name, Glass Goat. A love of the water and sea faring vessels is evident in early Ouderkirk panels, such as Gold Cup Races and Hacker Craft, his response to a call for entries for an exhibition at the Antique Boat Museum, in Clayton, New York. Hacker Craft paid homage to John Hacker and the wooden motorboat he invented, showcasing the blueprint of the vessel in the background.
The beauty of nature that surrounds River Road Farm was a constant source of inspiration for Ouderkirk’s autonomous panels such as Hen House, created for the American Glass Guild’s American Glass Now 14 exhibition. This combination panel of warm and cold glass techniques features two big chickens, fused and painted with Reusche paints, Gum Arabic, and water. Four chickens in nesting boxes, the earth, and two chickens coming out of a barn door were created from silver stained and painted window glass.
In July 2015, Ouderkirk exhibited The Queen in American Glass Now 2015, the AGG juried members’ exhibition displayed at the National Cathedral, Washington D.C. The Queen, his stunning painted, fused and layered glass interpretation of a queen bee, is a collaboration with Marty Snye, blacksmith and beekeeper, and Lorraine Austin, who contributed design ideas and blew the glass ball that serves as the jewel atop The Queen’s crown.
In this ToYG interview, Captain Ouderkirk discusses his successful combination of fusing and stained glass in autonomous panels, unique marketing ideas and suggestions for stained glass artists, thoughts on the creative process regardless of genre, and his love of wooden boats and boating.