Having passed the small office, one enters a huge, cavernous room four stories high, forty feet wide and one hundred feet long. At the far end is a wall of clear glass, in front of which is a glass panel that is anything but clear. It is made up of undulating light and color of such flashing brilliance that it gives the entire room an almost surrealistic feeling.

        Welcome to the Charles J. Connick Associates studio. It is in this building that the stained glass art of 900 years age is continued in much the same manner as it was during the Middle Ages. As you walk through the studio and see the various artisans at work, the 20th Century, with its automation and computers, is quickly forgotten. You are surrounded by living history.

        How stained glass is made is relatively simple to describe; how to make it well is the work of a lifetime.

 

Once a work is commissioned, the donor, the designer, and the Parish consult about the theme of the new window, always keeping in mind that the window must not only be beautiful in itself, but also complement the surrounding environment. Size location, and price are other important considerations

Ideas come from many sources - an extensive library is a prerequisite for the designer of stained glass

 

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The exact measurements and condition of the space to be filled by the new window are the province of the architect working in conjunction with the designer


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The design is studied using a small scale sketch which conveys the impression of the color and light of the window. this sketch is then critiqued by the donor and Parish until a final working sketch is selected

 

 

 

   
A full-size black-and-white drawing called the cartoon is prepared, in which the ideas of the small sketch are further developed. The cartoon includes both the lines that the artist will use later and the lead lines which are made the exact thickness of the lead that will eventually surround each piece of glass and hold the finished window together

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From the cartoon, two pattern drawings indicating only the lead lines between each piece of glass are made from five sheets of paper. The sheets are layered from top to bottom: 1) the cartoon, 2) carbon paper, 3) light brown paper (working drawing), 4) carbon paper, and 5) card stock (cut drawing)
   

 

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An easel is now cleaned and prepared. This is a sheet of clear glass larger than the section of window being worked on. A wooden frame around the glass protects hands from the sharp edges

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The working drawing is held in place under the easel and a special black paint made of tempera, sugar, and gum spirits is used to trace the lead lines directly onto the glass surface. This paint adheres well to the glass, yet it can be removed easily so that the easel may be used again
   

 

The card stock pattern drawing is cut using three-bladed shears to remove the lead line, making a space between the adjacent pieces of paper pattern
 

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Wax is used to temporarily fasten this cut drawing to the easel with the painted black lines showing between the pieces to simulate the leading

   

The space separating the window section and the wooden frame is covered with black paper so the eye is not distracted during the following steps
   
   


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Each piece of glass has activity within its own area and also influences all the surrounding areas of color. Therefore, the colorist must at all times be aware, not only of the small section being worked on at the moment, but also of the work as a whole

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The colorist selects the glass from the thousands of pieces kept on hand. Each piece is carefully chosen for its color, position, shading, undertones, and numerous other factors

 

 


The cutter places the cut drawing on the chosen piece of glass and with a diamond or steel wheel cuts the glass to the shape of the pattern. The piece is held in place on the easel with wax so that, eventually, glass takes the place of paper

 

The painter traces the main lines of the cartoon on each piece of glass with a dark, ceramic pigment consisting of iron oxide and ground glass. Further shading and texturing is applied using various techniques to control the light and bring all the colors into clearer harmony. Most of this work is done with the glass still held in place on the easel with wax. Daylight behind the easel approximates the conditions under which the window will be seen
 

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These painted pieces are fired in a 1200º F kiln, at least once and
often several times, permanently fusing the paint and the glass

The glazier places the working drawing on the bench and frames each piece of glass in a network of grooved or "H" shaped leads. The many joints of the leading are soldered
   

Cement is rubbed under the lead flanges on both sides to make the window firm and weather-tight
   

The sketch, cartoon, working drawing, and cut drawing are all filed so that, in the event of future damage to the window, accurate repairs can be made
   
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It is only now, when the window is in its proper setting, that the
full splendor of the stained glass art can be fully appreciated