Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Art · Masters of Glass
. . . .

Masters of Glass

Kristi Kates - August 31st, 2006
From, as owner/artist Penny Kristo puts it, “one table, a little glass, and a lot of optimism,” Shadetree Studios in Petoskey has carved out a well-respected niche in the stained-glass industry that is still going strong 31 years into the business.
Shadetree’s work is stunning - a quick browse through the gallery on their website turns into a 20-minute visit as you marvel at the detail that Kristo and crew put into their work. Lifesized trees and flowers, animals, motifs that echo architectural details, symmetrical designs, abstract shapes, and influences spanning everything from the Great Northwoods to the Great American Southwest - are all rendered with plenty of care and talent in colored glass, lead, and other unusual materials. Kristo has an artistic eye, for sure, and applies those design sensibilities to her glasswork.
Back in the ‘70s, Kristo was taking art classes at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey and ran into Frank James, who, at that time, owned the original Shadetree Studios, which was located in the back of his aunt’s antique store on Lake Street. James was looking for someone to help him in glass design, and he also taught classes; Kristo quickly signed up for her first class, in which she made a leaded stained glass window, and she paid for the class in trade, by working at James’ studio.
“I started getting more and more into the design work as time went on,” Kristo reminisces, “and as the glass studio itself grew, it began to take over the whole antique store. We started moving the studio to bigger and bigger locations - the current location is actually our fourth, and we’ve been here for 20 years.”
When James decided to move back to Florida in the early ‘80s, Kristo decided to take over the studio, and she’s owned it ever since.

Shadetree is both a working studio and a gallery, complete with Kristo’s friendly mascot, her black lab Gladys, who is often in residence. With other employees, all of them having started as “apprentices,” Kristo has a full complement of help, one of whom is her son, Jeremy Rakoniewski.
“Jeremy grew up in the business, so he knows what’s going on,” Kristo says proudly. “He’s actually the head of our restoration department now, and his wife, Robyn, is our office person.”
As Shadetree’s staff has been widely praised for both their artistic ability and their solid construction, they’re a great place to go for glasswork that needs restoring - they have many colorful ways to breathe new life into old windows or other glassed-in areas, just as much as they’re the premier place to go for custom stained glass work.
The business has even restored works from such renowned stained glass masters as Connick, Mayer of Munich, Heaton-Butler-Bayne, and the well-known Tiffany. The majority of their work in Northern Michigan is custom work and churches, but they’ll also travel for a good project, and they’ve gone both up into the U.P. and all the way downstate for various jobs.
You’ve probably seen plenty of Shadetree Studios’ work without even realizing it. They’ve done windows for several churches in Petoskey, including the First Presbyterian Church and the Christian Science Center, and they restored all of the striking windows in the Crooked Tree Arts Center. Some of their other notable work has included the new Presbyterian Church in Harbor Springs, the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Cross Village, and all of the windows in the chapel in Bay View. And, of course, there’s plenty of private work. “We do lots and lots of private homes,” Kristo confirms, “especially in Bay Harbor, and all around the Northern Michigan region.”

Stopping in to the studio will give you even more of an insight to what Kristo and her crew do. “It’s an open studio,” Kristo explains. “We’ve always been open to the public, and we also still teach classes and sell supplies here. People coming in will get to see all of the glass that we have on hand, and will likely also see people cutting glass, leading, foiling, soldering; it’s kind of like a mini impromptu lesson, as there’s always someone doing something.”
There’s a large display area with finished works, as well; visitors will be especially impressed by the stained glass windows, the hanging stained glass lamps, and the fused glass jewelry. “There’s a lot to look at,” Kristo says. And there’s definitely a lot that you’ll be able to visualize in your own house once you see what amazing things Penny Kristo and Shadetree Studios can do for your windows.

Shadetree Studios are located at
417 Howard Street in downtown Petoskey, telephone 231-347-1001. Their beautiful work can also be viewed online at
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5