Kathy Bee, owner of Soul Journey Designs, creates stained-glass lamps from old bottles
WINTER GARDEN As Kathy Bee would say, her life has been a series of detours all leading to the art of creating stained-glass lamps.
Bee had never considered herself to be artistic — she left that to her mother and brother. But the first time she saw a stained-glass lamp, she felt an unexplainable pull to try creating lamps of her own.
“I was just so drawn to it,” said Bee, who lives in Winter Garden. “I just knew without a doubt it was something I needed to work on.”
Initially, creating stained-glass lamps was just a hobby. Bee would make them and give them to friends and family. She never imagined how quickly her lamp business would grow.
“When you don’t consider yourself an artist, when you do something, you don’t think anybody will like it,” Bee said.
At her first farmer’s market, she sold 14 lamps and realized just how much people enjoyed her lamps.
That was seven years ago, and since then, Bee, who now operates Soul Journey Designs, estimates that she has sold between 700 and 1,000 lamps.
“For me, it’s more than making lamps,” she said. “It’s transferring positive energy between people.”
Every lamp starts with a blank bottle or vase, and Bee is always on the lookout for interesting and unique bottles to transform. Friends and neighbors often drop off odd-shaped bottles, and a friend who works at The Tasting Room knows to keep an eye out for Bee’s favorite wine bottles.
“I have a relationship with my bottles,” Bee said.
In her studio, shelves of blank bottles line one wall. Which one she chooses for a project all depends on her creative inspiration that day. And she never plans ahead what each one will look like.
“I just use the inspiration around me,” Bee said. “I don’t know where it comes from. When I’m creating each one, it takes on its own personality and energy.”
Often, she said, she taps into her surroundings, from the music playing to the weather outside, to determine how to paint and decorate each lamp. But the time it takes to make a single lamp varies depending on her creative inspiration.
“Some days I can finish six lamps, and it’s like, ‘Wow, when did I do that?’” Bee said. “Other days, it takes all day just to finish one lamp.”
For Bee, creating each lamp isn’t just about creating art but also about infusing each lamp with its own positive energy.
“I think of it less as a creative art and more of an inspirational art,” she said.
Once painted, each lamp is filled with a string of lights and capped with a decorative topper.
“I wanted to light the lamp just enough to see the colors without it being too bright,” Bee said.
Bee currently has lamps for sale at The Sacred Olive and Cambridge Home I.D.E.A.s in Winter Garden and Highlights Market in Clermont. She also creates custom orders for her clients if they want to request a specific lamp size or colors. But many of her repeat customers often let her work her magic to see what kind of lamp she dreams up in her creative process.
“I just listen to that inner voice,” Bee said.
And the work, she said, is some of the most fulfilling work she’s ever done.
“It filled a void I didn’t know I had,” Bee said.
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected].