Friday, June 18, 2010

Church Glass Adventure

It's March 17, 2010...a Wednesday.  A great day to start an adventure!

"Hello!  Your work is beautiful and I think you would be perfect for the project I have in mind."
Wow!  Excellent!  I can always use a little validation.  You want something unique and one of a kind, and you provide the glass?.........I'm in!

Now we're both excited...the glass is from an old Presbyterian church that is important to her husband.  The piece will be a "just because" gift for him...surprise! 

She ships the glass right away...

The glass is really dirty from countless years of weather and, eventually, neglect.  That's ok, I can wash it.

I wash it as I wash all my glass...hmmm...still dirty. I scrub it really hard. Still dirty...Arrg!

It's April 27, 2010...a Sunday.
Not to be bested by some old church glass I search the web for professional stained glass restorationists.  I shoot a message to two different sites, and get a response from one.  Michael, at Mezalick Design Studio is gracious enough to reply to my inquiry and gives me a  few tips.

Cool!  Except the glass is  s t i l l  dirty!  I make a face!  Maybe if I tried the final and most extreme tip, given with much caution....but I'm not getting mixed up with any kind of acid!

I send an email..."I cannot get the glass clean.....can I add some other glass to brighten it up?"  No...she wants to respect the integrity of the church.

I lay the pieces out on my work bench, touching them, moving them around, trying to picture the pieces in some new form.  But suddenly I'm worried, I'm thinking that I have no idea what these people would really like...or dislike. Well...I just have to go for it.

It's somewhere around June 1, 2010...on a day that ends in y.  I've completed the piece.  It lays there, finished, on my bench, for something like a week.  What if she doesn't like it?  She likes the stuff in my does my mom, but I doubt that this piece would appeal to her. There's only one way to find out.  I shoot a couple photos... I wait a couple more days...I'm a very busy person!

It's June 13,'s a Sunday.  I send a short email.  "I've finally finished your church glass."   I attach a couple photos...I'm still nervous, but it's a relief to send the message. 
"Janet!  I love it! And it's right on time for my husbands birthday!"  H u g e  sigh of relief!  I ask her for additional information about the church...this might be good blogging material!  She responds....

"A little more about our church and what it means to us."

"My husband bought this church to save it from being razed. Our community is very poor - the poorest in the state of PA and has already lost 90% of its buildings, homes, business and people with the decline of the steel industry. (we're a rust belt town) The church was so beautiful and important ... we wanted to save it. The dream was that one day it would become a Community Center for the community, although we were unsure of how that dream would actually come to fruition. The previous congregation sold all the stained glass windows and really stripped everything in the church. Left behind was one small broken window and the glass pieces were the ones I mailed you."

"Our community is Braddock, PA and my husband is its Mayor, John Fetterman. A little bit more here." 

"Our dream for the Community Center is now finally coming true. The church is being featured in a national campaign for LEVI jeans that will be public July 1st, and can be seen at length on their website as of that date."
"And so ... our little church has life again."

Thanks Gisele...for a most excellent adventure!
Gisele was kind enough to forward a photo of her my curiosity is entirely slaked!

"Hi Janet ...Here it is!
There is also a video on youtube that has a few great shots of the former church ... when you see an empty church window behind John ... you will see where the glass came from.
All our best!
And here's the communities website

Please feel free to leave a comment below...I'm interested in your thoughts...
I'm not sure I can ever top this!  But please check out my shop anyway! ....


  1. Wow - great job. You really captured the spirit of the glass in the new piece. It seems that the fractures are once again whole.

  2. Janet, Nice piece. I'm glad it all worked out.
    The glass looks clean and you have another happy client.
    Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow. ~Swedish Proverb

  3. Excellent words of wisdom Michael...I'll remember that proverb in the future!

  4. Janet, I love what you did with the pieces of glass. You brought new life to something old.
    “Our passion are the true phoenixes; when the old one is burnt out, a new one rises from its ashes.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749-1832
    Love ya!

  5. Janet you have produced a wonderful peice of artwork here! I love the Steeple effect on the lower border!

  6. Thank you...Matt and Mike...oh Wise Ones...!

  7. What a wonderful story and you did a fabulous job with the glass. The finished piece indeed reminds me of new growth, a new start, new life!

  8. Janet, I love your blog! It was great reading about the church. You are a writer as well as an artist!

  9. Thanks Diane...thanks for checking it out.
    I hope you are happy with your own broken church window!

  10. I'm doing a research project on church stained glass windows for my World History class too. We're discussing the importance of stained glass windows during the Middle Ages and how the lower class was taught Christianity. Do you have any references that I could use to get information? Also, your design is absolutely fantastic!

  11. Hey Gary...thanks for stopping by. I just learned some cool stuff...thanks for the question. Check out this's alot of reading but addresses your topic pretty well I think!