There has been a revival in the popularity of stained-glass windows and not just in places of worship.
Early literature tells us that the colorful windows were created by ancient Egyptians and Romans, both of whom excelled in the making of small colored glass objects. The windows were created to beautify buildings, control light and tell a story.
They were found in churches for decorative purposes as the art began to flourish in the 10th century. Some of the oldest pieces of a stained glass window from 686 AD were found in Jarrow, England, at St. Paul’s Monastery. Early examples of stained glass windows can also be found in some of the palaces and mosques in the Middle East.
Today, stained-glass art remains popular throughout the country and is still found primarily in houses of worship, but it can also be seen in universities as narratives drawn from history or literature and as stand-alone art in homes, governmental buildings and even casinos. In the last 30 years, interest in stained glass windows has been revived.
Fine art programs in colleges and universities teach the art of making stained glass, and many individual artists have flourished.
Lee Foster, co-owner of Glass Art Studio, encourages people considering stained glass for their homes or offices to view the art at several local casinos.
“The Gaudi Bar at Sunset Station is beautiful,” he said. “It was inspired by the legendary architecture of Gaudi, and the 6,000-square-foot mosaic glass ceiling is an incredible design. Main Street Station has lovely antique-style stained-glass windows, and if you remember all the beautiful stained glass from the Barbary Coast, those pieces can now be found at several of the restaurants at the South Point where they have been reinstalled.”
Foster said the most popular locations for stained-glass windows are on the west side of the home, as the opaque colors of the glass reduce the intensity of sunlight.
“Most are placed in the kitchen, family room, bathroom and front door where the glass can personalize the exterior and interior of your home,” he said. “Stained glass is a great alternative to blinds or curtains. It can be cleaned on a regular basis and provides privacy without blocking the light. It brings a touch of elegance to the room.”
Stained-glass work is labor-intensive, as each piece of glass has to be selected for the desired color and cut to match a section of the design template. An exact fit is paramount, but once installed, it becomes a timeless piece of art. The beauty is that as light changes each day so does the color of the design, producing new images throughout the year.
“We have been creating beautiful and practical window and door designs for residential and commercial users since 1985,” Foster said, “as well as doing repair on lamps, windows or most any other form of stained glass. It’s a joint effort with our customers. They give us an idea or provide a design, and we work with them in completing the project.
“And the art can be anything. One customer brought us a photograph that depicted a garden of small yellow flowers and we recreated it in stained glass. They were quite pleased.”
Stained-glass making is a popular hobby, and many of those hobbyists gather at Glass Art Studio for classes. Foster had to close his business because of the coronavirus pandemic, but he is open again, and many of his customers have returned to finish projects they started several months ago.
“As soon as we reopened, customers and students returned,” he said. “We became quite busy, but won’t be able to begin any new classes until after July 4. If a customer comes to us and wants a piece for their home, we won’t be able to start it for a month or more as we have a number of projects that were put on hold. Normally, it takes about three to four weeks to complete a standard project.”
Foster sells all the various supplies for making stained glass windows along with books on related topics. He teaches stained glass, mosaic and fusing classes and has a dedicated classroom. Most hobbyists make sun catchers no bigger than 6 by 9 inches to hang in a window. Most popular is a hummingbird.