Sue Regis ‘02 always loved art, but she would have never found her true passion if it had not been for Joliet Junior College.
Being dyslexic, Regis had continuously struggled with school. When she graduated from Joliet Central High School in 1996, she wasn’t even thinking about college. But her parents, on the other hand, understood the value of a good education and made her take classes at JJC.
In addition to the general education courses she was dreading, Regis’s parents supported her love of art, and encouraged her to take some classes she would enjoy – and that’s how she ended up in Bev Decman’s metalsmithing class.
It was in that class that Regis first learned about glass blowing.
“Bev had some torches in the back of the room for basic glass bead making, and the rest is history,” Regis said. “Once she introduced me to the torch, I was just blown away. I knew from that point on, I wanted to do something in glass. Back then, the Internet wasn’t a big thing, so I remember going to the library and looking up stuff about glass.”
Glass blowing is the art of melting glass and molding it into a desired shape. Other aspects such as design and color are a part of this technique as well.
More than fifteen years after her first metalsmithing class, Regis is living her dream. She has her own glass blowing business called Regis Glass Art.
But it wasn’t easy getting there.
“I wouldn’t be where I am now without the help from others,” Regis said.
Though she loved her metalsmithing and art classes, Regis stopped attending JJC because her other general education classes became too much of a challenge. She went back, however, conquered the classes she had been struggling with, and eventually received a certificate in welding at JJC in 2002.
Regis said she was able to pass the difficult classes because she sought out help from JJC tutors and the Student Accommodation and Resources (StAR) Office.
“At JJC, I learned that once you start something, no matter how hard it is, do not give up on it,” she added.
Regis Glass Art opened in 2005 in Joliet. This month, Regis will celebrate a new phase in her career – she is moving her business to a bigger location at 81 N. Chicago St. Suite 103 in Joliet. She will host an open house on April 25, and the community is invited.
Much of Regis’s work includes jewelry and ornaments. The most popular request she receives is to create memorialization pieces, or glass jewelry with a loved one’s cremains inside – something she started making early on in her career.
“I always knew that human and pet cremains could be put inside glass, and I wanted to try it,” Regis said. “So, a good friend of mine had some of her cat’s cremains and I tried it and it worked. Now I do this all the time.”
These memorialization pieces can be any color or design and can be customized to the client’s wishes.
“Being able to help somebody with the grieving process is an honor. Ten years ago I never thought I’d be working with the funeral industry,” Regis added.
Regis advises high school graduates who aren’t too enthusiastic about school – the kind of student she used to be – to keep studying, seek out help and obtain a degree or certificate. Regis said that JJC is the perfect place to experience likes and dislikes through classes. Today, Regis owes her career to the classes she took at JJC.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do at the end of high school. I didn’t know anything about melting glass, and I went to JJC and look where it got me,” she said. “Taking the metalsmithing class – the description of the class didn’t say anything about glass in it. I fell into this career, and I think it’s good for younger people coming out of high school to understand that taking just one class can lead you to something else and open your horizons.”
For more information about metalsmithing classes, or other fine arts classes, visit JJC’s Fine Arts Department page at www.jjc.edu/info/fine-arts.
To find out more about Regis’s business, visit her Facebook business page.