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Rising Stars: Meet Katie Miller

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Miller.

Hi Katie, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I’m Katie, I’m 31 years old, I’m a wife and a mother to a 10-year-old girl and we all live with my mom, who is a Breast Cancer survivor. I remember my mom working in her little shop as a kid, but I don’t recall exactly what she was doing, I now know it was stained glass, so I’ve always been around it. At some point, she stopped though. I’m not really sure as to why. Eventually, I moved out and started my own family. Towards the end of 2012, my year and a half old daughter and I moved back in with her. In around 2013, I think it was, my mom was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer.

After she started her chemo treatments, she began to work on the stained glass again to earn some extra money as she wasn’t able to work. During this time, she taught me everything there was to know about the craft. I’d help her with orders on occasion. I didn’t have the desire to do it though. Probably around 2014ish she wasn’t physically able to create pieces anymore. Because of treatments, she acquired neuropathy in her feet, making it difficult to stand for long periods of time. She also has fibromyalgia. I did a few commissions in 2018 but I still wasn’t interested. It was boring to me at the time.

For years my older brother wanted the Hylian Shield from the video game Zelda made into stained glass. He didn’t actually want it. He just wanted it to be made. I guess to see it happen. One day in 2020, he told me I should do it. My mom never got rid of her stuff, it was just sitting there. So, I told him to draw me up a pattern and I would. It was the biggest piece I had ever made at the time (16 x 19 1/2 inches) and it ignited a fire in me. I started to have a passion for this craft. It took me about 25 hours over the course of a week to finish. It’s probably my favorite out of everything I’ve ever made.

This began my journey into creating things from video games. Pokémon seems to be a top favorite. Every Pokémon I have made, except 2, have sold. Gengar and Shiny Umbreon are the most popular. My favorite things to make are from Zelda. That game was a huge part of mine and my brother’s childhood. I have done stuff outside of that though, it’s usually for commissions. I did a couple of logos for a firefighter chief in Fayetteville. I made a logo for a doctor’s office I currently work at as a Phlebotomist. I don’t make enough with stained glass to have it be my main source of income. Those are my most proud commissions. I have shipped items to most of the states, Canada, and as far as Australia.

I follow a lot of stained glass artists on Instagram, they have inspired me to try different things. I have a glass order on the way to my house filled with different textured glass and colors I have yet to work with, so I’m excited to see what the future holds. I want to branch out more than just video games.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has, but at the same time, hasn’t been so smooth. The supplies it takes to create these pieces of art get really expensive. To make a generally “easy” piece from start to finish you will need a glass (of course), your pattern (usually cut from paper), markers to trace the pattern, a glass cutter, oil for the cutter, grozing pliers, a grinder, copper foil, flux, solder, a soldering iron, cleaning supplies, and patina (which has a chemical reaction to the solder making it black in color). So having all of this readily available for me made it really smooth and easy to get into.

Making stained glass has been a way of earning extra money. Sometimes I have to spend the money I have put away for supply orders because the car breaks down or my check was short and need groceries or a bill is due. Something is always bound to come up in just the right (wrong) time like when I need to make a supply order of glass.

I never went into this thinking I could make a big thing out of it. It was just another way of providing for my family. I’m so incredibly grateful for the followers I have on Instagram, Facebook, and Reddit. They have been crazy supportive no matter what I do.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I guess at the moment I specialize in video game-inspired items/characters. I’m most proud of how I like the challenge. My mom always tells me I’m crazy for making half the stuff I make because of all the tiny pieces of glass. Tiny pieces are no fun and I fuss at myself all the time.

But those little tiny pieces make the whole piece what it is. The details I put into something are what make it so much more awesome than if I didn’t.

What are your plans for the future?
I have 3 events coming up! It will be the most Events I’ve done close together. One is the North Raleigh Community Market on November 13th, one is at Vertical Church in Lumberton on November 20th, and Giving Back To The Blue in Durham on December 4th.

I had a memory came up on Facebook not too long ago of the first event I have done at a local comic book shop in Lumberton called Crime Ally Comics and Collectibles last year, I’m excited to take a new picture and see how much I have grown since then.

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