After spending a professional lifetime as an educator in the northeast, Milton Graves traded in his classroom supplies and administrative day planners for a side room in the John Knox Village Resident Workshop.
There, he is substituting chalk, blackboards and bureaucratic paperwork with cutters, running pliers, soldering irons, copper foil tape and sheets of stained glass.
Under the Lakeside Villa resident’s guidance there are now three beginner classes of resident-students foiling, burnishing and clipping the glass of their eye-catching suncatchers within the cozy confines of our Stained Glass Studio.
“Growing up I was that kid, the one having an easel in my room,” the upstate-New York native said. “Art has been a passion of mine for as long as I can recall.”
Instructing 15 residents (at this time only ladies) on the likes of edge-beading stained-glass panels was an easy transition for Milton who spent nearly three decades teaching young deaf students in Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania—including serving as Middle School Director at the prestigious 146-year-old Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Pittsburgh.
“Teaching, instructing, educating, whatever you want to call it, it does not leave a person,” he said. “I’m having as much fun as they are in these classes. I developed a booklet to help them and I would like to take them, and others, to the next level by making three-dimensional items such as plates, lamps and vases; that will also enable them to learn how to use my kiln.”
Before moving from PA to Oakland Park in 2006, Milton’s work adorned, and was sold, through many galleries in the Keystone State. “Not just galleries, but also street fairs, and not just stained glass. I’ve been blessed to have some proficiency in other (artistic) medias.”
Along with his impressive stained-glass work, Milton is presently an active oil and acrylic artist and member of three local art associations—Art Serve, Broward County Art Guild and a Fine Artist Member of the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens.
On a recent class visit several ladies were engrossed in their personal pieces with various stages of development—from initial template cutting to soldering to shining up their final suncatchers. Discussion ensued about whether any of their art work was worthy of being exhibited during the 18th Annual John Knox Village Art Gallery.
The ladies were apprehensive, but Milton vehemently disagreed announcing that even pieces in their earliest stages would be completed and ready to be shown off during the yearly show, which was successfully held in our Health Center’s Coral Cove Dining Room in late August.
“Are you kidding me?” he said to his students. “Your pieces are wonderful. You need to let the world see them.”
Milton plans on displaying some of his craftwork as well. After all he was that kid with the easel in his room at a young age and his passion has not waned.
— Rob Seitz, John Knox Village Public Relations Specialist