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Touch of Glass

With more than 40 years under his belt at Tulsa Stained Glass, Richard Bohm can easily say he’s pursued his passion to great results.

Michele Chiappetta
Marc Rains
July 29, 2017

Life is not worth living unless you are doing something you are passionate about. That’s the philosophy of many an artist and many a small-business owner too. It takes a drive for something more to help propel a person past challenges so they can be successful in the thing they love to do. You can see that passion for business and for artistry in the most unexpected places, including a little strip mall on the southeast corner of 41st Street and Sheridan, where the unassuming but vibrantly creative Tulsa Stained Glass and Art Event Center resides.

Tulsa Stained Glass was established in 1975 by owner Richard Bohm, his (now deceased) wife. Carol. and his sister Caroline, who all caught the bug for stained glass art swiftly and passionately. “My wife and my sister started in the craft first. They took classes,” says Bohm. “I was doing engineering-type work and got involved very quickly. And before we knew it, we had a small business.”

Bohm’s earliest customers were mostly friends and family, with a smattering of art shows thrown in, much like many artistic hobbyists. “We started with the little sun catchers, and we were going to fairs and festivals and selling things,” he says. “Eventually, we got into a studio.” 

At 12 feet by 18 feet, their first studio wasn’t large, but it was great for producing more stained glass work, which was what the Bohms wanted to do. “We were very anxious to be in business and do some things, so it just started and grew,” he says.

With more than 40 years under his belt, Bohm can easily say he’s pursued his passion to great results. A significant part of Tulsa Stained Glass’s influence on Tulsa since 1975 can be seen in the pieces they have designed and had installed around town. If you visit the Ronald McDonald House next to the St. Francis Children’s Hospital, you’ll see a stained glass window that the Bohms built, based on pictures that children drew as inspiration.

“The children drew pictures of what the Ronald McDonald House was all about,” says Bohm. “My students then took those pictures, and we converted that into a stained glass window. It was such a learning experience to take child art and then convert it into another medium. It still remains one of the main backdrops to people at the Ronald McDonald House.”

With more than 40 years under his belt, Bohm can easily say he’s pursued his passion to great results. (Photo: Marc Rains)
With more than 40 years under his belt, Bohm can easily say he’s pursued his passion to great results. (Photo: Marc Rains)

The experience led Bohm to launch an art contest called the Art Smart Challenge, which is held yearly. “Our art contest is therapeutic in nature,” he says. “We want people to express themselves artistically.”

Participants take a picture of their artwork and upload it to Tulsa Stained Glass’s website. Bohm and a team of judges review the submitted artwork at the end of the year. There are several prizes awarded, with the grand prize winner receiving a stained glass window based on their winning submission.

Another popular example of Bohm’s custom art can be seen along the River Parks Trail at 19th and Riverside Drive. Stained glass images of Art Smart Challenge submissions and winners are on display for everyone to enjoy. “We post the grand prize winner, and then all of the other winners are posted on this outside sculpture so people can go there anytime and see it.” Other examples of Bohm’s work can be found in the chapel at St. Francis Children’s Hospital, Boston Avenue Methodist Church’s columbarium, OSU Stadium and other locations around the area.

Though Bohm continues to focus mainly on custom artwork, he also offers classes to the public. Right now, he’s working on developing a class for local colleges to train instructors on how to bring stained glass art to their students. But the business’s Art Event Center also offers classes regularly to those who simply want a little artistic expression in their lives.

“It’s all about inspiration and getting people excited about doing something other than watching TV or some of the other things we might say are non-constructive,” he explains. “Way too much in our lives is clutter. Art can help us create a nurturing environment.”

For those who want to make their own art, Tulsa Stained Glass offers classes for that too. If you want to make one simple piece for yourself, the Garden Spirits Sculpture class is a good way to do so. For $49, anyone aged 16 and up can come into the studio for a three-hour session, drawing and painting something and then converting their image into a garden sculpture they can take home to display. The tools and glass are provided as part of the class.

Because the Garden Spirits can be made in a single session, the Garden Sculpture classes are ideal for birthdays, team outings for businesses and other special events. As many as 20 to 25 people can participate. The studio also provides four-week and eight-week beginners classes for those who want to become more skilled in stained glass creation. For children under age 16, mosaics classes are available. Those interested can find information and sign up online.

The goal of these classes, says Bohm, is to help people find their passion and enjoy their loves. “A major part of my efforts has been helping people realize their potential,” he says.

Tulsa Stained Glass continues to do a brisk business in commissioned work and repairs. If you’re interested in having something created especially for your home or business, Bohm suggests stopping by the showroom, where you can see the types of glass that are available, get a sense of some designs that have been created for others, and speak with him about the design you’re envisioning. Bohm can also do repairs for your stained glass windows, doors, lamps and more.

Tulsa Stained Glass
4131 S. Sheridan Road | Tulsa
Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday: Closed