OTTAWA -- With the COVID-19 pandemic and its recurring lockdowns, people are finding new ways to keep busy.

And it is colourful glass that is shining a light on some of the darkest days.

Gina Bies has been a big fan of stained glass her whole life, and took up this new hobby just before the stay-at-home order last week.

“It definitely lifted my spirits. It’s kind of nice to get out with people. It was good for being social as well as picking up a new skill,” says Bies. “I probably would have continued buying these pieces rather than trying to do it myself. I’ve always loved the look of stained glass but never thought to give it a go myself. So this was a perfect opportunity to try.”

Alexei Netchaev is a glass artist at Northern Art Glass Inc. They specialize in helping newcomers discover a love for colour and creation.

“Our shop is tailored to everything from the professional, to the new artist,” says Netchaev. “In our beginner class, for example, we teach you how to cut each piece individually. Then how to solder, how to wrap it in foil—all the processes with that—and how to do it safely of course.”

They have seen a surge of clients because of COVID-19 as people look for a way to spend time trying something new.

“Before the pandemic, we had interest in classes but as soon as it started, the interest just spiked,” says Netchaev.

Patrick Dwyre has been working with stained glass for 20 years. He says his art helps him focus and he finds himself spending more time with glass now. It’s his therapy.

“It’s one of the few mediums that really captures light in a really unique way,” says Dwyre. “It’s definitely been my escape to forget about the modern world that we’re living in with this pandemic and isolation.”

The light at the end of the pandemic tunnel might not be here yet, but it is definitely shining through these beautiful pieces of art.

“Stay creative and stay happy,” says Netchaev. “This is the best time to learn something new. Decorate your home, make it beautiful.”