In a glass of her own

UNDER THE RADAR BIANCA DIVITO GROWING UP, Bianca Divito's claim to fame may have been that she was a distant relation of the…

UNDER THE RADAR BIANCA DIVITOGROWING UP, Bianca Divito's claim to fame may have been that she was a distant relation of the diminutive film star of the same surname but these days, the Co Wicklow native is making a name for herself in her own right.

She has just picked up an excellence in enterprise award in the emerging category from Wicklow County Enterprise Board for her achievements with her fledgling business, Divito Studios.

The award-winning architectural art glass designer specialises in glass commissions, art glass sales and conservation and restoration of historic stained glass at her studio in Arklow Enterprise Centre.

As well as working on major glass conservation projects including St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin and Canterbury Cathedral, Divito's work can also be seen at Indus, a restaurant in Drogheda and as far afield at the Guest Palace in Oman.


Divito did an honours degree in architectural stained glass in Swansea in Wales before winning the coveted Award of Excellence from The Glazier's Company in London, which enabled her to work for 40 weeks in some of the most prestigious traditional and contemporary glass studios across the UK and continental Europe.

A degree course in architectural stained glass probably wasn't high on the CAO form of most students in her year or any other for that matter, so how did the 28-year-old become interested in such an obscure degree course? She puts it down to her family who are all very artistic, particularly her father Joe, who also did a stained glass course many years previously.

"My interest was sparked off at the very beginning through my father," she says. "He actually had some training in the area and I was always interested in art and design. I studied fine art as well in Dublin, but I felt I needed something more applied. I just didn't want to be making pretty pieces for walls."

She always had a plan to set up her own business and working in England, she saw the niche for a good, quality stained glass restoration company in Ireland. She returned from England just over a year ago and a combination of a bank loan, some savings and an employment grant of €7,500 from Wicklow County Enterprise Board helped to get the business off the ground.

"I always had the idea of coming home and setting up my own company because there is a real need for good conservation and restoration glass studios in Ireland. I worked on the windows in St Patrick's Cathedral because I was doing my training with an English company, Holy Well Glass from Somerset. A lot of the bigger conservation jobs are actually being given to English firms because we just don't have the skills here and the proper training."

But Divito's work isn't just limited to restoration work. While the restoration work is growing, the bulk of her business comes from large-scale architectural projects, as well as commercial and domestic commissions.

"A lot of people when they think of stained glass think of old-fashioned patterns and leaded glass, whereas I'm bringing it in a new direction and have a modern, contemporary look. I try to use different materials, crystals and semi-precious stones and incorporate them into some of the panels as well," she says, adding that she wants to move away from the idea of restricting stained-glass use to fixed spaces such as windows. Using stained glass as a screen can be decorative and functional, she says.

Her background in fine art and design also helps, she adds.

"I'm a designer, so basically all my designs are not rehashed from books," says Divito. "I'm actually designing the pieces to suit a particular space and people want to spend money on unique pieces for their homes."

On the commercial side, she has just finished the major project at Indus restaurant in Drogheda and has just won tenders to provide bespoke pieces to two recently extended schools in Wicklow. Divito is also selling individual, framed stained-glass panels.

In fact, business has been so good that she has moved into a larger 1,200sq ft premises in Arklow Enterprise Centre, which now serves as a work studio and a gallery. And as well as getting a hand from her father to meet growing demand, she has also taken on her younger brother Ercole as her apprentice.

"I think I'm going to need to get somebody else as well apart from that because the work is starting to come in now," she says.