Illuminating Unforgettable Spaces

Illuminating Unforgettable Spaces

With Victoria Balva Glass Studio

Kendrah Johal

Step into the world of Victoria Balva Glass Studio, where architectural artistry reaches new heights in the custom home sector. Specializing in large-scale stained and leaded glass domes, decorative glass skylights, glass, and mosaic murals, Victoria Balva’s creations are a fusion of traditional craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology.

Born in Ukraine during the Soviet Union era, Victoria’s artistic journey started when a family friend recognized her innate talent and prompted her to enroll in art school. After excelling in art at high school, she further honed her skills through a five-year fine painting program at an art college. One day she walked into a studio in a different department and found coloured pieces of glass that were being prepared for stained glass art. She picked up these coloured pieces and noticed how they embellished the beauty of the light in the room and immediately fell in love with the art form. Victoria credits this moment as the turning point in her art career, she subsequently changed her major from painting to glass art design.  After art college she was accepted to the prestigious University of Industrial Arts in Ukraine, ultimately specializing in the elite Monumental and Public Art program – a unique specialization where artists learn to create art in large scale urban environments. After completing her studies, however, the collapse of the Soviet Union presented unforeseen challenges with starting her career in the arts. Undeterred, Victoria and her husband immigrated to Canada despite financial constraints and the absence of a support network, where they worked tirelessly to carve their niche in the industry. As a woman in a male-dominated field, Victoria encountered initial skepticism on construction sites, compounded by a language barrier. Yet, her resilience shone through during this immigration journey, not just overcoming challenges but turning them into steppingstones for growth. Along the way, Victoria successfully secured a position in a Toronto studio where she gained invaluable mass production experience, thus marking the beginning of her ascent in the stained-glass industry.

 

 

 

Bringing Tradition and Technology in Stained Glass Art

Victoria Balva Glass Studio is more than an atelier; it’s an odyssey through art, resilience, and the seamless integration of tradition with technology. Victoria’s artistic evolution embraces modernity, notably utilizing AutoCAD for design creation, expediting her workflow, and showcasing her ability to meld traditional artistry with contemporary tools. Rooted in architectural understanding, her designs range from intricate florals to avant-garde geometrical shapes.

Victoria’s dedication to pushing artistic boundaries and embracing 21st-century tools makes her a trailblazer in a medium often steeped in tradition. However, what truly sets Victoria apart is not just her mastery of AutoCAD but her commitment to continuous growth. With each project, she seizes opportunities to evolve her skills, pushing industry boundaries to create unique art for her clients. This proactive approach has allowed her to generate multiple design directions – versus the conventional 1-2 designs – to present to the client, allowing for deeper design explorations in the initial stages of the project before starting on execution. It is this process that helps Victoria uncover the nuances of her clients’ needs and desires so that she can create indelibly unique pieces that endure through time.

 

 

 

The Collaborative Symphony of Kindred Custom Homes and Victoria Balva Glass Studio

Kindred Custom Homes first learned about Victoria’s art through one of our clients, who was eager to showcase her work in their home. The selected areas for this artistic collaboration were the entryway foyer, where a stunning large glass dome will take center stage. The second piece will be above the indoor pool, where glass skylight boxes will be on display. This marked the beginning of our collaboration with Victoria and her team.

The intricate journey from vision to installation unfolds like a choreography of art and technical precision. Victoria’s first step involves a review of the site’s renderings and drawings, and then an on-site visit, where she gets a feel for the space and familiarizes herself with the intended locations for the glass dome and the pool sky light. These two distinct visions require careful consideration before the design process begins.

Following her site visit, Victoria formulates optimal designs for the designated areas, allowing the client to make their selection. Then, the creation process springs to life. In the studio, Victoria’s team undertakes the construction of the steel frame fabrication, serving as the structural foundation for the delicate glass pieces. Simultaneously, Kindred Custom Homes team receives critical information to help construct the overall structure of the house so it can support both the glass dome and sky box efficiently.

Kindred integrates the mechanical, electrical, and structural elements to ensure a seamless fit for Victoria’s design. Given the glass dome placement in the ceiling, precise measurements are imperative. The complex design of the glass dome requires the construction of a glass roof above it to optimize lighting. However, this introduces the need for access to the roof, prompting the creation of a discreet hatch with a catwalk for safe and efficient maintenance.

The coordination efforts are extensive, involving the handcrafting of bevels using advanced glass water jet cutting technology and custom-built polishing machines. Leveraging cutting-edge glass cutting technologies enables her to work with elements of any thickness, texture, or geometrical complexity, unlocking new artistic and technical possibilities. The resulting hand-beveled glass pieces are both delicate and rare, requiring precision and time. It is a thorough and time-intensive process, Victoria not only captures the essence of her artistic vision but also creates enduring pieces that transcend contemporary trends. Simultaneously, the Kindred Custom Homes team plays a crucial role in bringing technical solutions to breathe life into the Victoria’s vision and ensure every aspect meets the design’s exacting requirements.

Once the pieces are completed for this project, Victoria will ensure the secure transportation of the pieces across the 4400 km journey from Toronto, Ontario, to Vancouver, B.C. Carefully packed and protected, the materials will arrive at the site, where Victoria and her team will assemble and install them, infusing each step with her artisan touch.

 

Creating a Legacy of Enchanting Spaces

The goal is to create a space that feels magical, transporting them from the outside world into a realm of beautifully handcrafted designs. The pieces add value to the room by not only serving as visuals but also as transformative elements. The interplay of natural light with the handcrafted glass art creates a dynamic play of colors and shadows, casting an enchanting aura that evolves throughout the day. Each bespoke glass piece becomes a source of intrigue and wonder, elevating the room beyond mere aesthetics. The art becomes a conversation starter, inviting admiration and sparking curiosity. Guests find themselves in a space where every glance reveals a new facet of beauty. Victoria’s glass creations, like jewels adorning the room, turn it into a sanctuary of timeless elegance and artistic allure.

At Kindred Custom Homes, we go beyond the basics of construction. Our focus is not just on building structures but on achieving a finished product that seamlessly combines artistic expression with functionality. The glass dome, embodying both precision and artistry, is a symbol of our commitment to creating spaces that are not only well-built but also crafted with an enduring artisan touch.

 

Date ; February 28, 2024

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