Between college classes in the early 1970’s,
I dreamed of a life that would give me the freedom to follow my passion.
For sixteen years, I had endured the rigors of academic life, completing a degree in Sociology and Forestry. Now I wanted to educate myself by following my ideas and inspiration as they developed, working intuitively and quickly, and creating my own product. This was the beginning of my life as an artist.
I also enjoyed watching sunlight filtering through the forest. The translucency of nature inspired me to search for a medium that embodied such beautiful light and color.
Glass was the perfect material: it was challenging (with thousands of colors), translucent, workable, and accessible. Starting with a crate of glass, a glass cutter, and a pair of pliers on the kitchen table, I made hanging ornaments by the hundreds and sold them to gift shops: apples, pears, cherries, and chickens that stood on one foot, angels, mice, and birds.
Next I wanted to make Tiffany-styled lamps. At first they were lopsided, then it clicked. After the publication of a full page article about my stained glass in the Richmond Times Dispatch, I stayed busy making lamps for several years. Flowers, apples, pears, cherries, and even an eggplant lamps were requested. Then my passion turned to making windows.
First I studied all the books I could find on Tiffany, LaFarge, and other notable figures in the history of stained glass windows. Yet my real joy came from walking along the sidewalks of the historic Fan district of Richmond at night and admiring the transoms and landing windows in the homes there. My excitement soared as I studied beautifully designed windows with exquisite color and impeccable craftsmanship that were created in one of the peak periods of stained glass’ popularity.
One of the turning points of my career was discovering a complete set of 1915 Henry Lang beveling machinery in the old Richmond Glass shop. Dismantling the machinery and bringing it to my studio, I began a two year journey to learn the art of beveling. I could not find anyone who knew how to bevel and I couldn’t find any books on the subject at the time (not even in the Library of Congress). I taught myself the art of holding each piece of glass by hand over rotating iron, stone, cork, and felt to create the many small facets on the beveled edge that give the finished window it’s character. It was an enormous amount of work.
Teaching myself how to draw opened up a whole new world for me as a craftsman. Now I could reproduce the historical windows I saw, and later, incorporate my own design ideas as my craftsmanship developed.
By now I had been practicing my craft for 12 years, had 5 employees and a cramped studio in the fan district of Richmond. Being pulled in so many directions, and missing the creative time for thinking and experimenting, I decided I needed a change.
I packed up and moved just over an hour away, west, up the James River to Bremo Bluff: seven acres, a 1907 farm house and an old buggy barn for a studio. I was ecstatic again. With one helper, I dove into the pleasures of creativity. Solitude and a frugal lifestyle freed me once again to follow my own direction.
Our popularity grew as people sought us out to create unique art glass windows for their homes and places of worship. We shared ideas and sketched them on paper to show how we could combine our resources, processes, and years of experience to create a “jewel” within their architecture.
People appreciated that their window was designed specifically for them and would never be reproduced.
My most popular style has evolved from traditional beveled glass windows. Working asymmetrically, I bevel various thicknesses and textures of glass from varying angles and blend the bevel’s unique character with fine European glass or superior quality domestic glass.
Often, I will incorporate techniques learned over a lifetime: flame work, sculpturing, painting, etching, and carving. I consider these windows to be the pinnacle of my art.
Sculpturing metallic branches and vines has brought another dimension to my work. Freeform beveling around the sculpturing gives these windows the feel of ice on the early morning vine.
Working glass over a flame has brought me closest to my fascination with the translucency of nature. Mixing and drawing hot glass to make it thinner gives me the range of color I need to create interesting pieces. This is as close as I have come to the translucency of nature that has fascinated me.
I appreciate you taking your time to review our work and look forward to the possibility of working with you,