October 22, 2021

Falling in love with stained glass — again

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Wil Alaura of Tully shows how newly cut glass gets a layer of foil around it after the edges are ground. The stained glass artist’s work is now hanging at the Bloomin’ Cup in Tully.

Wil Alaura said his other half was crabbing about his unused stained-glass studio taking up space in their home — for 20 years.

When the Tully man started organizing the room, pulling out piece after piece of stained glass, he was struck.

“I fell in love again with glass,” said Alaura, 69. “One week later, I was in the studio.”

Alaura, an artist and energy worker who owns Energy and Wellness in Tully, now has his stained glass works hanging at the Bloomin’ Cup on Clinton Street in Tully, on display until July 4, at least.

Students in Tully’s high school art class, studying the process, got to talk to him and see his work.

“We are so lucky to have this stuff,” said Melissa Flint-Morgan, owner of the coffee shop and mayor of Tully. “Wil has been our good neighbor now for over a year. And we just have become friends by chatting and getting to know each other.”

When she saw pictures of Alaura’s work, she was struck. “That’s absolutely beautiful. We have to get them into the shop,” she recalled.

Alaura’s stained glass features flowers or organic abstract designs, mixing texture and color. His work is sharing the space with Peter Huntington, and a photographer and jeweler, too. Alaura’s works are for sale.

“My mom came home with a stained glass ornament,” when he was a boy, Alaura said. It was a golden jewel leaded grape cluster from Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts.

“I can make that,” Alaura said, looking at it. “I always made stuff. My mom was always good about it. As long as I cleaned up after myself.”

He got hooked on stained glass.

“There is nothing like the feel of glass being cut,” he said.

Photo provided by Wil Alaura

Wil Alaura’s studio space in his Tully home.

His grandfather took him to Keck Stained Glass Studio in Syracuse when he was 14. He bought glass sheets of all kinds and colors. That year, he made Christmas ornaments for everyone.

“I’ve been doing it ever since,” he said.

He apprenticed with Syracuse Crafts People in Syracuse, has won competitions and has sold work in several galleries, including Eureka Studios and the Everson Museum gift shop.

Alaura says he is clairvoyant, having the ability to gain information about an object, person, location or event through extrasensory perception. He says he is able to see auras around people.

“I began to take the energy I see, and I put it in glass,” he said. “It’s a longer, more sustained medium than paper.”

“When I have a vision in the morning, it goes in the glass,” he said.

“I used to do the psychic route, I’m trained as a psychic. I did aura drawings for people. Then they came out with an aura camera. It’s not as popular any more.”

His sister decided to go back to school for engineering at Onondaga Community College. Alaura had a premonition.

“There’s a guy in class, you are going to marry him.”

She did. For her wedding, he volunteered to do the flowers.

He had had a vivid dream years ago about his sister’s maid of honor, who he’d never met. He dreamed about a stained glass stair case. He was going down an escalator and all the steps were stained glass. Over the railing he saw pottery, leather, fabric, puppets.

After the dream, he went to find the maid of honor to work out a detail for the wedding. He had to go down an escalator to her shop in Syracuse. And over the railing were marionettes, leather, pottery and fabric. And the bridesmaid was a stained glass artisan!

“We became friends,” he said of Marcia Ames, owner of Rose Colored Glasses shop. The artist taught him stained-glass making techniques and he did an internship for six months with Syracuse artists: people who did leather, pottery and fabric. But Alaura would also do stained glass.

Photo provided by Wil Alaura

Several glass shapes Alura made.

Alaura uses glass from all over the world. He gets an idea for a picture and cuts pieces and forms them together for his design.

Hand-made glass is rough on one side and smooth on the other. Most panes of window glass are clear, not varied, and are made by machine, he said.

He showed how he cuts glass with a roller like a pizza cutter. Once it has a line, it can be broken off.

But “glass has a mind of its own. That’s the thrill of it,” Alaura said. “You never know, until you put up the window, to see if your vision has gotten in there.”

For newly cut glass, he puts the edges through a grinder so he won’t cut himself and adds a piece of adhesive metal to each piece.

“Every piece in the window has to have this done. You slowly do it for hours,” he said. “Some pieces can have hundreds of pieces.”

He uses a soldering iron to fix the glass pieces.

Alaura said his glass making took a back seat to his energy work.

“I had shamans coming in from all over the place. People from South Africa coming in … this got set aside.”

Now he’s going to emphasize art more. He’s also a painter and will devote a day each week to the practice. And he’s starting to learn how to paint on glass.

“I know my work is different. It’s unique,” he said. “This is my love. This isn’t fun. This is dedication.”