Case Study - Custom Stained Glass Windows Project

We selected the stained glass for our new window from our own large collection of art glass; we have multiple glass textures and hundreds of colors many of them manufactured by the same companies that supplied to Tiffany Studios over 100 years ago. We had a good supply of drapery glass that we used for the angel's robes. This specialty glass, developed by Tiffany and Company has an undulation and wavy surface to simulate the texture of draped fabric. Drapery glass is made by ladling molten glass onto a graphite table grasping and pulling the glass with tongs while still hot and in a semi-molten state until it has been manipulated into fabric-like draped folds. The thickness of this glass varies from 1/8” to 1-1/2” (3.2 mm to 38 mm) thick. In the finished window drapery glass shimmers with all of the shadings of draped fabric in a robe or other draped garment. For the angel's wings, we selected a herringbone textured glass that is made in a similar fashion by pulling and manipulating the glass while in a semi-molten state.

We set about the task of selecting the stained glass for this project from the approximately 4,000 colors and textures that we have available. If we can't find the exact color or effect that we need, we will use the plating technique to increase our choices. Plating increases the choices exponentially, for example two pieces of glass plated together would give us 4,000 x 4,000 = 16 million possible color and texture choices. Of course, we do not have a lifetime to test all of these possibilities. Selecting the glass for any project is a highly intuitive process that is even more complex for a project such as this one.

custom stained glass window project for FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH of Kenosha

Details of 2 faces from Bovard Studio's new window titled 'Angels'. Notice the herringbone textured glass used for the angel’s wings (left) and the drapery glass used in the angel's robe (right).

We use a team approach that enables the leaded glass artists to collect input from other experienced glass artists on our staff. As the glass is selected and cut it is 'waxed up' (attached using a sticky wax) onto a glass easel that is placed in front of a natural light window facing the same direction as the completed window will face when it is installed. This is important so that we can examine the effects of the layered plates of glass in the same lighting conditions that the completed installed stained glass window will experience.

During this process our glass painters are sketching out full size drawings of the flesh (faces, hands and feet) areas of the new window and are planning how the plates are going to work in our Angels window.

Tiffany wanted to create stained glass windows that portray the brilliance and magic of the great glass of Europe's spectacular medieval cathedrals. Louis Tiffany felt that the windows being created by his generation of glass artists with their heavily painted stained glass had lost the magic of stained glass's glowing past glories. Tiffany wanted to create new stained glass windows that would be as magical and brilliant as past generations' best contributions.

Tiffany's philosophy was to limit glass painting to the flesh areas of a stained glass window. He created the balance and movement in his windows through the purity of the glass itself. Tiffany developed a variety of glasses to help him achieve his goal. They include opalescent glass, textured glass, plus other techniques such as plating and copper foiling to achieve all of the details and richness for his art images. The magic and brilliance of his treasured creations speak for themselves.

Our challenge here is to capture as much of that magic and brilliance as possible in this new creation. Our task has been made easier as the many Tiffany restorations we have completed over the years have revealed many of the master's secrets to us. But, there is one ingredient we are missing: the hands and eyes of the master himself.

Now our meticulous glass craftspeople take over and we painstakingly assemble the window. The assembly of plates and drapery glass requires large and uneven thicknesses of lead came. Our master craftspeople use the same fabricating techniques they have developed to restore the originals, often making the unique sizes and shapes of the lead came by hand.

After much work and concentration this window was complete and the day for installation finally arrived. The church congregation was thrilled. Examine these photos to judge for yourself just how close we came to capturing some of Louis Comfort Tiffany's magic in our new Angels window.

Kenosha Stained Glass Church Window

One of the authentic Louis Tiffany and Company windows is installed in the nave of First Congregational Church of Kenosha, Wisconsin. The quality and luminance of the glass is both magical and exquisite.
Kenosha Custom Design Stained Glass Window

Bovard’s finished and installed 'Angels' window.