Growing up, Victoria Belz’ mother would tell her not to run with scissors.
Now she makes a living playing with fire and glass.
The St. Charles resident demonstrated how she makes her flameworked glass art, jewelry and gifts during a grand opening held over the weekend at her new store and studio, Tinker Belz Art, located in The Berry House at 227 S. Third Street, Suite 108, in downtown Geneva.
For 10 years, Belz had a studio at Water Street Studios in Batavia, where she also taught classes. She will also teach classes at her new location.
Her new digs give her more room to display her work along with more space to work.
“That was a great place for me,” Belz said. “This is really nice to be able to expand and have a permanent set up of my work and be able to add to that. Before I was always having to pack things up whenever I taught a class.”
Plus, it is convenient that Belz lives near her store. She has lived in St. Charles for 22 years, and has been a glass artist for 16 years now.
“I take solid rods of glass and also tubing and things like that and introduce them into a 2,000-degree flame,” Belz said. “I heat that glass until it gets molten in the flame and sculpt it or blow it out.”
She first got interested in flame-worked glass art after her in-laws gave her a glass pendant from an artist in Florida.
“I thought, ‘This is really amazing. I wonder how they do that,’ ‘’ Belz said.
Belz then took a class and was instantly hooked.
She likes the fact that customers are able to watch her as she is going through the process of making a piece of glass art or jewelry.
“They just have so many questions and then when they take a class, sometimes there’s trepidation there because they’re working with this 2,000-degree flame,” Belz said. “And then they take a class and I walk them through the steps and they make something. And they feel good about what they’ve done.”
In one of her classes, Belz teaches how to make glass icicles.
“Those are fun to make,” she said. “You don’t have to have any experience.”
She has had children as young as 8 years old in her classes.
“It’s just amazing to see their eyes light up,” Belz said. “I enjoy sharing it with everyone.”
Fellow artist Deanna Gibson of Wayne, who does commercial and fine art photography, took one of Belz’ classes with a friend.
“Victoria just made it so easy,” Gibson said. “And we were both so happy because we actually produced something.”
She was at the store on Saturday and liked what she saw.
“There’s windows, so anybody walking by can see her working,” Gibson said. “It is fascinating to watch. And I love the space. It really shows off her work really nice.”
Even though the name of Belz’ business bears a slight resemblance to the Disney character Tinker Bell, the name actually has to do with the fact that she likes to tinker.
“It actually came about more than a decade ago,” she said. “I started getting custom orders, which was very flattering. I thought that I should have a name for myself. And while my primary medium is glass, I also work with a lot of mixed metals. I incorporate organic wood and leather and fabric and things like that into a lot of my pieces. I like to tinker and my last name is Belz.”
From swizzle sticks for drinks to magnifying glasses and wall sculptures, Belz makes a variety of items.
“I don’t like to just make just one thing,” she said.
And she is always thinking of new things to make.
“I’ve never run out of ideas and techniques to try,” Belz said. “And glass is very fickle. You have to work within its parameters or it will break. So there’s a challenge in that as well.”
More information is at her website, tinkerbelzart.com.