Following is an example of the window-crafting process from start to finish.
In 2008, a representative of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church contacted me about windows for her church. She had a dream of stained glass for beauty and to cut the glare from the existing windows – all the parishioners had to wear sunglasses to church! We talked about what could be done and how to incorporate these windows with the altar’s glass sculpture of Christ in front of a blue and yellow sunburst and over water.
She asked me to extend the design and return with rough sketches for our next collaboration meeting. The next meeting was a formal one with the Stained Glass Committee where I presented the computer design and a preliminary contract. Here we discussed process, installation, reinforcements, framing, and glass. In our third and final meeting I came with a small prototype stained glass window and many choices for glass selection. The committee enjoyed the process of choosing the glass colors and textures.
They decided to make each window “for sale” to the parishioners with a copper memorial plaque under the windows with the owner’s name engraved. There were 56 large windows of the same width but of varying heights, so each window was a different price depending on the size of the piece and the complexity of the design. They worried that they could not sell all the windows, but we agreed to three years for them to sell the windows and me to get them made and installed. When the windows went on sale, they were all sold in 10 days with 12 people on a waiting list!
I started the building process and created the windows one by one. Over the next few months, I cut each piece out by hand with a small hand cutter, ground each to fit, leaded the pieces on a table with traditional channel lead and reinforcements, soldered each intersection of lead, then flipped the windows over and soldered them again. Then I cemented the lead with modern cementing materials (these maintain the integrity of the lead lines and the solidity of the piece) and underwent the elaborate cleaning and waxing finishing process. Finally, I flipped the windows again to cement, clean and wax the other sides. All of the work is done with my own two hands.
When they were finished, my husband framed each window in mahogany. We bought a scissor lift for the installation and rented a boom truck for the really tall window columns. We installed one column of four windows at a time over the existing windows for weatherproofing, strength, and longevity, at the rate of one column per month.
The entire project took exactly twelve months and was completed two years ahead of schedule!
Although this project was enormous, I take the same care and quality time with every window, large or small.