Beveling consists of holding a piece of glass over steel wheels with grit, stone with water, cork with pumice, and felt with cerum oxide.
For the star, we used an old beveling trick in which we skipped the cork stage, so when we did the final polishing, the facets were still quite prominent.
It’s very subtle, but it gives the beveling the extra sparkle. I like to think of it as the equivalent of when furniture was made with old hand planes.
We have completed our work at Stella Maris Catholic Chapel in Ocracoke, North Carolina.
Stella Maris translates to “Star of the Seas.” We are honored to be such a significant part of Ocracoke’s first Roman Catholic chapel.
Many, many years ago, I read an article about where to find the best barbeque in Arkansas.
“Heading south on Rt. 167, about 12 miles from Little Rock, you make a left on the first dirt road, past the abandoned Buick. Follow the road about 3 miles, and you’ll see a man sitting in his lawn chair, under a pole shed, stoking his fires.”
“No signage, no menu, no pricing, but somehow you know you’re at the right place.”
For the last 41 years, this has been my business model.
Much of what I’ve learned over the last 51 years has come from working on stained glass windows in churches.
This particular window I worked on in Ocracoke is an excellent example of first-class craftsmanship. The painting, selection of glass, and various techniques blend to create an exceptional focal point for this small chapel.
Drapery glass is created by ladling hot glass onto a heated steel table and then pushing and pulling it with various tools. I am puzzled about the round “ball” shape near the bottom. It may have come from one of the tools used to form the glass.
I was so impressed by the sensitivity to the painting in this section. I’m especially fond of the darker glass surrounding the lilies, making them a highlight of the window.
Working on the scaffolding, I was able to photograph close-ups of the wings. It is a real art to be able to paint so that the effect the artist is trying to achieve comes alive around 20-30 feet, or more, from the window.
Compare these photos to the finished window.
I have never seen this effect before, but the light reflecting off of this rippled glass, in the various shading of gold and beige, gave such a realistic look of the movement of light.
The blue jewel was a thicker piece of glass, I’m guessing about 3/8″, that was faceted by chipping away layers of glass, similar to the way arrowheads were made.
After I removed Mary’s face and hands, it became easier to see how the artist created the dramatic contrast between light and dark. The darker areas are two layers of glass sandwiched together, while the brighter colors are just one layer.
I often think of Rembrandt’s painting when I see windows like this—such masterpieces of thought and skill.
For the past year, we have been working on a catholic chapel in Ocracoke, North Carolina.
The donor purchased a really nice, historical window that was missing Mary’s face and hands. An artist in New England painted a replacement, but when the window was installed, it was felt that Mary was not properly represented.
My son, Daniel, and I worked together. He painted the new face and hands, and I installed them, which gave Mary her rightful presence in the window.
Windows we created for a home in Highland, Maryland, depicting the four seasons.
This was an unusual exploratory project in which we visited several of our suppliers to select glass, each with its own warehouse full of crates of glass. Each crate contains the same color, but each sheet is different. My bias is toward the more translucent glass, which means only about 3 or 4 percent of the glass interests me.
It is disappointing that by the time photography meets the internet, so much of the brilliance in the glass is lost.
Here are two windows in a series of six, of the four seasons, we are creating for a home near Washington, D.C.
These two windows show the transition from winter to spring and fall to winter. We’re also showing how the windows will look with daylight and in the evening with reflective light.
A window we are creating for a Catholic chapel in Ocracoke, North Carolina.
The background is hand-blown glass from Germany, and I found this old glass in a salvage yard that we beveled on our 1915 machinery.
As I was growing up, I was often told that in life, one can use their head or their hands.
I feel fortunate to say that I ended up using both.
As I’ve grown older, I like to think I use my creativity.
I started my college career as a forestry major. After three semesters, I realized I enjoyed the aesthetics and the environment more than the science.
So now, I incorporate my love of the forest in my work.
As we transition from winter into summer, a most beautiful time of the year.
Our shop… A home away from home.
Here is the completion of our four windows for a carriage barn.
We used a heavy reamy glass that was hand-blown in Germany. You can see the beauty of this glass come alive as the sun moves around the building.
With the addition of some bevels and our flameworked leaves and berries, our goal was to create an impressionist-type window of vines whiplashing in the wind.
We received final approval for our design, The Tree of Life, for a Synagogue.
In the last few days, we have made our patterns and are beginning by cutting the glass for the roots. The color of this window will come from the stained glass, the details and the design elements will come from painting, which will be fused into the glass to become permanent.
This is my first adventure in building a window from the inside out. I’m actually becoming quite fond of the process. It allows us to hold each section up as we build it to study our color selection.
This window represents spring, summer, and fall, and we’re going to create winter in two adjoining windows.
As I move around, working on three to four projects at a time, I find that creativity flows more easily and is less stressful.
Being a hand craftsman, it’s rare that we get to use a high-tech ”machine.”
I spent most of yesterday shuffling graphite around to design four windows for one of our projects. I left the smudge marks so you can see how hard I work here!
The large picture with four drawings is how I started. The bottom two are what I’m going to present in my proposal.
I’m often at the kitchen table when I create designs like this. It takes a lot of sketching and erasing to create something that somewhat satisfies me. Staring at the drawing, I’m constantly looking for ways to build character in the lines. The way I do this is by moving around the drawing and finding little areas that need to be adjusted.
Creativity is stressful at times. It’s actually a relief sometimes to get up and empty the dishwasher and wash a few pots.
We are beginning to assemble various sections of four-season windows to study the interaction of color.
This gives us insight into how to design for the overall effect.
One of our current projects, involving six windows, will be to create a forest scene with elements of the four seasons.
Starting with full sheets of glass, roughly 24″ x 36″, we search for the highlights that will bring the window to life.
Last Friday, we installed our window, “Jesus Welcoming the Parish,” into St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Burke, Virginia. It was blessed on Sunday by Bishop Susan Goff and received glowing compliments from the parish.
Our recently completed cleaning and installation of protective covering for St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia.
Due to vandalism concerns, we used Polycarbonate to protect the window, which also gave a nice reflective quality to our project.
Much discussion went into Jesus’ skin color.
The committee and we concluded that it would have been more olive-colored than white or black and that he would have most likely looked like a typical Galilean Semite of his day.
This is our finished interpretation. From my experience, this is quite a departure from most of the paintings of Jesus in stained glass windows I have seen over the years.
This is a window I made around 20 years ago for Elk Hill’s chapel, a group home in Goochland, VA.
I placed the western hemisphere on one side and the eastern on the other, with UV adhesives.
Finding the right blue for the oceans was well worth the effort.
As we move along on the painting, we add shadows to the robe to balance it with the painting of the face, hands, and feet.
The robe is finished, and we are beginning to assemble. The face requires several more paintings to achieve the skin tone of what we believe Jesus looked like.
This window was designed as an interior window beside the sanctuary entrance. I’m especially fond of the eyes looking directly into the eyes of the parishioners as they enter the sanctuary.
We start the painting of Jesus with a “ghost” tracing, which will become much lighter when we fire it around 1200 degrees.
Next, we move through the various stages using different painting techniques and firing temperatures to achieve the end results.
Our goal is to achieve the skin tone of what we believe Jesus looked like.
We updated our website this morning and included this project we did a year and a half ago on our homepage.
Sometimes when we have a window finished, the space we have intended it for isn’t.
This is a window we completed nine months ago, and just a few days ago received a photograph from our client after installing it.
Always a thrill for us as we consider incorporating our windows into architecture as part of our art.
We drove three hours to Frederick, MD, to visit Anything In Stained Glass yesterday. An amazing glass collection from Youghiogheny, Wissmach, Kokomo, Uroboros, Oceanside, and more.
I got to meet the owners, Paula and her husband, along with their knowledgeable staff, who helped us find the glass we needed for some of our projects. I was also impressed by their pricing and the organization of their inventory.
For the face, head, and hands to compliment the translucency of the robe, we compare past portrait studies created from various types of glass and paints. We will also apply slight shading to about 30% of the robe to balance the overall effect.
This is the best simulation in our studio of the lighting that our window will receive.
Sometimes the effect we’re after exceeds our expectations. This is one of those times.
Today we begin creating the robe from glass we’ve been collecting over the last couple of weeks.
This interior window will be lit by lights in the ceiling on both sides.
This gives a sparkle as the light picks up the highlights in the glass as one moves around the window, unlike an exterior window that is evenly lit by the sun.
The challenge is to use the four to six varieties of white glass in such a way as to bring the robe to life.
Yesterday we visited the Youghiogheny Glass Company in Collinsville, PA. A 12-hour round-trip for us. An amazing experience. I was there years ago, but they keep getting better and better. I am biased toward unpretentious companies that are turning out exceptional products. Youghiogheny is the epitome of this.
I thought you might appreciate interior shots of their enormous inventory and some of the glass we selected for our projects.
Although each crate has similar glass, each sheet is different – so we spend a lot of time selecting what is available. We focus on finding the highlights in a sheet to compliment the various elements of our design.
Every day we seem to make discoveries as we heat, push, and pull strips of glass we cut from full sheets of stained glass.
Thank you for your kind comments last Thursday when I showed you the assembling photograph of this window.
I thought you would like to see how it turned out. We created this window for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington in 2014.
There are times I wonder why I take on such complicated projects.
I keep telling myself that I am expanding my knowledge and skills while being paid.
It’s no secret that many of us artists “invest” most of our profit into our ongoing development as artists, and I can attest after my 50 years that this approach has worked for me.
Two designs I created over 20 years ago. The one on the left would make a nice door, or perhaps a garden gate.
The one on the right was influenced by the vines growing up on the VDOT signs in the country.
A lot of thought went into the proportions and variations in the designs.
Some of the magic we’ve discovered over the years is working glass over our 1915 beveling machinery.
Cutting 3/8″ and 1/2″ glass to a pattern, and free-handing them over large steel, stone, cork, and felt wheels rotating around 200 RPM, one can create various bevels that bring character and refinement to the overall project.
We achieved the gold by using an old mirror we found that still had some of the tarnished silver. By carefully cutting and going through the beveling processes, we could preserve enough to give the pieces a special antique sparkle. Under the round bevel, we placed a piece of iridized glass to reflect light.
Over the years, we’ve discovered many techniques such as this through constant “thinking and doing, doing and thinking.” Thank you, Goethe.
Windows we made for two friends who love driving their miniature horses.
The completion of our New York transom.
14″ x 20″
This window was sheer joy when it comes to the creative process. “Thinking and doing, doing and thinking.” Thank you, Goethe.
Applying a coat of shellac to our sculpturing gives the patina a rich and finished look. A top coat of polyurethane increases the longevity of the finish.
Update on our New York transom. Still a ways to go, but incorporating some new ideas.
A jig I made from an ax handle around 35 years ago. When pieces of glass are too small to hold while breaking, the notches hold the glass firmly for accurate breaking. This is especially helpful on 1/4″ – 3/8″ thick glass.
When we create windows in which we are sculpturing the vines, we will embed nails into the design to strengthen the window. In most cases, this gives the window enough strength so we don’t have to use reinforcing bars.
The anatomy of a glass crate that’s going 606 miles by freight.
After packing the window into its initial crate with bubble wrap, we bubble-wrapped that crate before putting it into a larger crate.
A beveled glass window we created for a home in Alabama.
66″ x 25″
I got a rough sketch from one of my clients this morning who asked me to refine her drawing with my “precision tools.”
I just sent her my finished rendering along with a photo of my “precision tools.”
Every few years, while working on a church, we often come across a project that they have been trying to solve. Most of them have been large wooden doors that no longer open and shut properly.
We’re almost always able to rework the hinges, latches, and sometimes planing the doors so they work properly again.
I have found helping churches out in this way not only makes everyone feel good but is also a reminder of our craftsmanship.
In this case, we restored the weathervane for Palmyra Methodist in Palmyra, VA which was damaged in one of our recent storms.
Updated progress on our New York transom window.
A transom for a home in Alabama.
Update on our grape transom. The top is bright morning sun, the bottom is approaching dusk.
Click to get the full photo.
The completion of the Shanti windows.
It was created in the style of the Impressionists – the spontaneous interplay of light and color.
11″ x 39″
Sri Krishna, a Scroll, Lao Tzu, Rama Krishna, Buddha, Mary and Jesus, Confucious, and St. Francis.
Laying out patterns the old-fashioned way.
Putting the finishing touches on the 8 Shanti windows.
I was looking at my hands this morning as I was getting dressed and the thought occurred to me, that these are my “Red Badge of Courage.”
Of course, they are connected to my mind, which many of us consider the link between the two as our most valuable asset.
There is no mistaking, these are honestly earned the old-fashioned way.
A little cheerfulness to brighten this dreary day.
What I did on my four days without electricity.
Designed two windows for a carriage “barn” – 24”x48” each. On the left, trees down by the creek. The other, trees on a hillside. Colorful fall leaves on the ground with various light greens depicting the start of Spring in the branches.
Clear and various tints of blown glass from Germany, giving the window movement with its bubbles and striations will provide the background for our flame worked leaves.
Trees will be a combination of our sculptural soldering woven around bark like pieces of our flame worked glass to give the effect of reflected light and shadows.
The medallions will be a painted scene of the owner driving a carriage with her miniature horses.
The completion of one of our most “avant-garde” projects.
A recently completed transom window for a historical home in Richmond, VA.
It’s always somewhat of a sad day when a project leaves our studio – especially this one.
A pantry door and transom for a home in the historical Fan District in Richmond, VA.
Our goal was to create a garden gate effect with the garden above, merging into the top of the gate. If you look at the details in the close-ups, you can see how the solder sculpturing on the door creates the effect of rusted iron.
Our flameworking provides the 3D effect we wanted, through the manipulation of light and shadow.
Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving!
It’s been almost 50 years since I started working with glass.
Starting on the kitchen table, I made window ornaments. Apples, pears, cherries, chickens that stood on one leg……
I still do most of my conceptualizing on our kitchen table, mostly between the hours of 2 and 4 AM.
I cherish these 2 hours. No interruptions, my defenses are down, allowing for my best “free association.”
You may notice this photo was taken early in the morning. I’ve been married long enough to know that waking my wife up at 3 AM in the morning to take my picture is not a good idea.
Doing and thinking, thinking and doing………….
The evolution of our window, Part 2.
The color selection begins……
Daniel, my son, who is the painter, took the lead role in the project – both designing and painting. This window was commissioned for a historic home in Crewe, Virginia, to complement the finished renovations. Painted on completely transparent German mouth-blown glass, this window allows the room to remain light while creating a jewel in this home.
When it’s your 6th Birthday and grandpa is a craftsman…………..
One of my fondest memories as a kid and life-changing, was when I was around six years old. My father and I were home alone on a Saturday and we decided to have Campbell’s Tomato soup for lunch. After emptying the contents of the can into a saucepan to heat over our kitchen stove, he poured a half can of milk in and started stirring.
As I observed this culinary experience from the mind of a six-year-old, I pointed out to my dad that the instructions on the can called for a full soup can of milk.
“I think it tastes better with a half can. You don’t always have to follow the directions.”
I’m quite fond of Lambert’s glass, having used it in various projects for over 45 years.
I find the making of glass quite interesting, silica, lime, soda, and metal oxides, heated to around 3000 F. But what really fascinates me is how this molten material is made into sheets of glass.
In an age when most products are mass-produced using computers, artificial intelligence, and robots, Lamberts continues the time-honored tradition of glassblowing. This gives the glass its “character” through the use of texture, bubbles, and striations in hundreds of colors
.I find myself in almost a state of reverence when working with this beautiful material. It inspires me to do my best as I continue it’s journey into a work of art.
Buying stained glass has changed over the last several years.
It used to be we had to buy a whole sheet, gather together enough colors to make crating and freight cost worthwhile, and usually waiting several weeks before it arrived. Now, our suppliers cut the sheets into smaller pieces, box, and deliver by FedEx and UPS.
This has greatly expanded and reduced our cost of building a wide color palette.
Thank you, friends, for your comments on my last post:
“To border or not to border.
To iridize or not to iridize.”
Often we are challenged with the question, “Whose art is it?”
As we absorb information from our environment, making it accessible to our subconscious, then bring it back to life in the form of a work of art, I believe that art is the individual’s expression, their creativity, and the work of the artist.