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Stained Glass Windows For Churches & Commercial Settings

There is no greater honor than working with a church to create or restore stained glass windows for their place of worship. A few of the churches I have worked with in the past are described here.

St. Joseph Catholic Church

St. Joseph Catholic Church, Adrian, MI

When the parish at St. Joseph church was looking for stained glass for their newly constructed baptistry, they chose to use Lamberts Clear Reamy Glass and brass came. Working with a design idea from Father Jim Lothamer, we came up with a simple plan using a clear mouth blown glass that resembled flowing water. Pat Deere, owner of Pictures In Glass, designed and fabricated the windows in her Tecumseh studio.  Names and dates important to the church past and present were sandblasted into the borders of each window. A series of 10 windows allows the light to flow in and was a perfect compliment to the beautifully painted historic windows inside.  This is a church worth making a trip to come see and to visit on Sunday morning!


Curtisville Baptist Church

What a lovely group of people to work with on this simple design for the Curtisville Baptist Church in South Branch, Michigan.  From what I understand the church is an old country church.  Two sisters came to inquire about a stained glass window that could be hung in an existing space.  They wanted something colorful to brighten it up and wanted to be sure future stained glass could made to compliment this piece.  At only 20"x20", the dove, sun, and background of this panel was a welcome addition to their old country church.


Lenawee Medical Facility Chapel

Lenawee Medical Facility ChapelAs is often the case with stained glass within a church, the idea to install these windows came when my customer wanted to honor her husbands life after he passed away.  Bev Bailey is an artist and so are many members of her family.  Her husband, Richard, was a well respected citizen.  Together they came up with an idea for windows within this non denominational chapel that would give the visitors of the facility a quiet place to pray, meditate, cry when things are going bad, and rejoice when things are going good.

Pictures In Glass artist, Pat Deere, worked with Bev's initial drawing and together they made it work in a stained glass window.  The glass used was largely Youghiogheny Stipple Glass with other glasses used where necessary.  The chapel is now an inviting, comfortable place to relax in what might otherwise be a hectic day.

The photo shown here is one of a set of 4 to complete the scene.

St. John Lutheran ChurchSt. John's Lutheran Church

St. John Lutheran Church in Farmington, MI had some major renovation work done. At that time, the church did not have the money for stained glass. For about four years, the space behind the altar remained covered with a white curtain background. When the money became available, they hired Pat Deere, at Pictures In Glass to create the window you see here.

Although all commissions are different, this one was especially so. One of the church members, Pamela Shapiro, was the artist on the project. She and Pat worked together to be sure her design would work for a stained glass window. Together, they traveled to Chicago to pick out the right glass. It was a constant check of the glass with lights on, lights off, natural light, and man-made lighting.

Youghiogheny Stipple Glass was chosen for the entire background and Uroboros Fibroid for the suns rays. The sun rays are actually overlaid onto the glass giving it a 3 dimensional quality.

The photo shown here can be found in The Guild Sourcebook Of Architectural & Interior Art #22 in the Liturgical Art section (page 178), or by going to Guild.com.


St. Dominic Catholic Church

St. Dominic Catholic Church

St. Dominic Catholic Church is a smaller church community with some beautiful older windows that have been in the process of repair/restoration for a few years. Previous windows in the church were releaded by Pictures In Glass and reinstalled in the bell tower of the church.

The panel shown here comes from the windows behind the altar. They were in pretty bad conditions with many pieces of glass missing, others repainted probably by a well meaning church member trying to keep the costs down, and the lead and glass bowing throughout.

Pat Deere carefully removed the windows, disassembled the panels, recreated the pattern for the background pieces on the computer, silk screened the design onto each piece of glass, and put the panels through a number of firings in the kiln to try to match as closely as possible to the original pieces. The medallion shown here, was a newly painted piece to replace the missing panel.

Pictures In Glass has worked with churches in the past with a maintenance plan that allows them to have their windows restored, as their budget allows. For more information about that plan, contact Pat Deere by phone or email and the details of your project can be discussed individually with the responsible people or committee members.


Blessed Savior Church

Blessed Savior Church

When Blessed Savior Lutheran Church contacted Pictures In Glass about repairing and or restoring their stained glass, it was accepted immediately. This little country church has a community of people that are very passionate about their building and keeping it in good repair. The church building sat empty for a number of years, and as empty buildings sometimes find, they suffered from the boredom of kids putting BB holes into the windows.

Some of the painted panels required repainting and some of the glass needed to be replaced. The glass was in surprisingly good condition in some areas, and those panels were left alone. Some of the wood was deteriorated causing the windows to fall in their frames. This movement caused a lot of cracks in one of the windows and extensive work needed to be done on it. That window was totally releaded prior to being reinstalled.

If your church has glass that is 75-100 years old and it hasn't been examined by a professional, you may want to give Pat a call to have it looked at. The initial visit will cost you nothing. Often, you will find that your windows are ok and will remain that way for a number of years. It is a good idea, however, to plan for future work to keep your stained glass investment in good shape. Sometimes early prevention can keep your maintenance costs down.

QUESTIONS WHEN COMMISSIONING STAINED GLASS

QUESTIONS WHEN COMMISSIONING STAINED GLASS

 

Some things to consider when you are considering commissioning stained glass for a church or commercial setting.  This is merely a beginning point including things to consider that a committee in charge may not be aware of.

Artists Discretion/Style:  For every artist, there is a style.  It is my belief that when you find a style you like, that artist will be able to work with you until you come up with a design that best fits your needs.  Whether it is contemporary or traditional, let the artist know your needs.   You will be able to see a number of styles and techniques used in the glasswork from this studio.  Take a look.  See what you like from different windows.  Do you like painting on glass, sandblasting, or fusing to add texture?  Are you looking for a simple design or something more intricate?  Clear textures often give a very elegant look while letting in a lot of light.  Write down what you like, what you don’t like, and be sure to express that to the artist you are considering.  It is customary for me to find out how many studios you are requesting information from.  Are you throwing out a blanket request to a number of artists or have you narrowed your search down to those you are truly interested in?   

Materials/Techniques Used:  This is just a small list of terms you will hear during the process of commissioning a stained glass window.
     Engraving is sometimes used to enhance the detail of a design in the glass using a diamond embedded tip.
     Etching or Sandblasting is a common way of adding intricate designs, commemorating names into a window, or creating special effects on flashed glass.
     Fusing glass can add a lot of texture to a design.  I have been creating some very interesting pieces by crushing glass and adding layer after layer onto a kiln shelf, firing it in a kiln, and using it as the main design element in some windows.
     Glass comes in a variety of colors and textures from many manufacturers that are too numerous to describe here.  I purchase a large portion of my glass from Ed Hoy’s in Illinois.  A link to their online catalogue to get an idea of the variety of glass available is:  http://shop.edhoy.com/products/ART%20GLASS.aspx .
     Lead Came and Copper Foil are two techniques common to the creation of a stained glass window.  These techniques will be discussed in reference to the designs recommended for your installation.
     Painting with enamels, silver stain, and tracing browns and blacks.  Painting on glass can add elements to a design that cannot be duplicated using other techniques.
     Plating glass using multiple layers allows colors and textures to play off each other in a design often giving depth to a design.

Light source:  Why is it important to consider the light source?  The glass that is chosen will be decided on after considering the light source.  Will you be getting sun shining directly onto the glass in the morning or in the evening?  Will it never see direct sun light?  Is there a need for artificial lighting from the front or from behind?  If artificial lighting is required, is there a need for a licensed electrician to install the required wiring or is wiring already in place?
     Consideration of the light source is extremely important when deciding on the glass used in the design.  Some glass will allow the light to transmit beautifully onto it’s surroundings when the light is shining through it.  Without direct sunlight, the wrong glass will make the windows appear dark and lifeless.  Painting onto the glass requires light for it to be appreciated and not appear dark.  Some of my favorite glass is that which is beautiful with our without light.  Each installation is different and these issues will be discussed with the person or committee in charge.

Design/Drawings:  Input from the church, owner, or committee is the first step to creating a design that will be appreciated over time.  My goal as an artist is to be sure whoever enters a space where I have installed stained glass will feel different when they leave as a result of the installation.  To be sure that happens, clear communication is required.  Keep in mind, designing is often one of the most time consuming things when creating a newly designed stained glass window.  It is often deemed appropriate for an organization to research the artists they want to consider prior to requesting designs.  If you like the artists work, it is likely you will be able to work through the design process to come up with something that will work best for your setting.
     Design Ideas:  It is important for me as an artist to meet with the responsible people when creating an original design prior to spending any time on design concepts.  That may mean working with one person or a committee of people.  Regardless, a relationship between myself and the responsible parties will give me an idea of what the final result of the project should be.  What do you want people to feel when they enter the room with glasswork installed?  Are you looking for bold, bright colors that will wash the floor in color when the light shines through?  Would clear, textured glasses be more appropriate?  Will you be including words or verses within the design?  Is this project in memory of an individual or group that will be named in the window? 
     Initial Drawings:  In my studio, most of what I create are original designs derived from years of experience, not patterns.  That said, on a large commercial project, it is the design stage that can often be the most time consuming and costly part of the project.  It is the designing of a stained glass window that I find is where I excel and feel my customers appreciate the most.      
     Compensation:  Many studios require an up-front payment for designs and rightly so.  The designing is often one of the most time consuming aspects of creating a stained glass window.  Sometimes that is the case for me especially on large installations.  Sometimes I can work with a committee when creating designs and bake the cost of the designs into the fabrication cost of the window.  This will be discussed on an individual basis with each customer.  Although I may sometimes work with a customer and not charge an up-front cost for designs, I do not let printed copies of my designs leave my studio without a pre-approved cost for the designs being paid.

Fabrication of the Window:  Basic techniques when fabricating stained glass windows would be the copper foil or the lead came technique.
     Copper Foil:  With this process glass is cut and wrapped in a copper tape.  All of the glass pieces are put together like a puzzle on the pattern, all seams fluxed, soldered, cleaned, and polished.  Sometimes the finished solder is treated with a patina to change it from the natural look of the lead to copper or black.
     Lead Came:  For lead came, the glass is cut and fit into a lead (zinc, copper, or brass) channel, the joints fluxed and soldered, cemented, cleaned and polished.  A new product by Streuter Technologies allows lead came windows to be put together in a little different fashion where a glue is in the channel prior to construction.  The glue is heat treated and this eliminates the need for cementing a window.  I don’t recommend this construction for an exterior installation.

Planning & Installation Options:    Planning for a stained glass installation should ideally be done during the designing process for the building or window opening.  Often, that is not an option and an alternative decision needs to be made.  It is important to consider some of the following:
     Permanent Installation:  Including your stained glass studio during the design stages is recommended if it is know that stained glass will be a part of the design now or in the future.
     Free Hanging:   Framed, hung windows can be an option for almost any application.  If it is important not to disturb the existing framing or the customer wants to have the option of taking the windows with them when they leave, this is a great option.  Discussions with a church in the Virgin Islands whose concerns with the weather lead me to suggest free hanging windows for their church so they could easily be removed and protect if bad weather was approaching.
     Framed and Backlit:   When stained glass is requested and installing it into a window is not an option, framing it and lighting it from behind is often recommended.  Choosing the appropriate glass and lighting is important to be sure you get the best possible illumination.
     Thermopaned or Insulated Glass:  Although it is my personal preference not to insulate stained glass between plate glass for aesthetic reasons, there are times that it should be considered.  Understand this process will increase the cost of the installation but will increase the insulation factors.
     Reinforcment:  Regardless of the installation option chosen, taking into consideration how to reinforce the windows to assure a long life is necessary.  Keeping the size of each individual window within the frame to a manageable size is important.

Protective Glass:  There is always a question about whether or not a stained glass installation should be protected and different opinions on whether the framing should be vented if protection is chosen.  Usually the deciding factors are whether there is existing glass in the opening, if insulation is an issue, if vandalism is a concern, and if marring the physical appearance of the outside of the building matters to you, if outside factors are causing damage.  One area all professionals agree upon is the fact that concern over vandalism is a good reason to protect your stained glass.  Some of the resources I have used over the years that you may find useful are those I have listed below.  Decisions on your windows will be considered on an individual basis.
     Preservation Brief 33, http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/tps/briefs/PB_33.pdf , on page 13 you will find information about the controversial aspect of protective glass. 
     Another good source of information comes from the book, Conservation of Stained Glass In America, by Julie L. Sloan:  http://www.aiap.com .  In this book you will find a variety of options for covering stained glass, reasons for venting in the protective framing material, when protective framing is not necessary, etc.
     The Stained Glass Association of America publishes a series of educational books.  One of them is:  Installation and Safety Glazing: http://www.cafepress.com/sgaa.249929442
     Compensation:    Typically, paying for materials up front is required and cannot be refunded once the fabrication has begun.  This is due to the fact that framing is custom made to the specifications of your window openings.  A payment schedule for labor and materials will be spelled out in a written quote.

Budget:  When considering the budget for stained glass, all of the above need to be taken into consideration.  I can remember working with a committee where one of the members said it was not her concern whether the windows were properly reinforced because she would not be around in the next 50 years.  Stained glass is designed to last about 100 years before restoration work is necessary and lead starts breaking down.  It is important to consider all required elements of the project when considering the budget in order to be sure the money you are spending now will be used in the most responsible manner.  That may mean estimating costs for repairs to the facility prior to installing stained glass if necessary.  Consideration of the best type of installation for the space should be taken.  Is your money better spent on protection of the glass or better quality materials used?

Deadlines:  Deadlines for each project is discussed individually and can depend on the size of the project, the type of installation, what glass you choose, what other projects are going on in the studio at the time, etc.

Travel:  Costs for necessary travel/lodging should be included in the budget for the project.  Often, it is desirable to have an artist from outside your local area install stained glass.  If this is the case, you will most likely want to meet with us in person prior to making a commitment.  Installation will be done by our studio and travel costs for that may be necessary as well.  This will be discussed on an individual basis with the appropriate people for the project.

 

 

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